Watching an orchestra performance is one of my great pleasures in life.
This weekend my wife and I took advantage of the MSO's free recorded concerts to watch their performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, commonly regarded as not just his best composition but one of the greatest works of music of all time.
Not only was the music wonderful, but in this particular concert they were supported by a troupe of acrobats from the Australian contemporary circus, Circa, combining contemporary dance and acrobatic stunts to provide a visual interpretation of the sounds we were hearing.
Playful, graceful, strong, sombre, breathtaking: all these emotions were encapsulated in both the music and the performance of the acrobats.
But one emotion stood out from the rest — joy.
For those unfamiliar with the piece, Beethoven's 9th features the iconic choral movement known as the ‘Ode to Joy'.
It's a powerful reminder that joy is built into the very fabric of our world.
That one of our chief desires and needs as humans is to find something to delight in.
Whether it’s taking in a beautiful sunset, watching your team kick the winning goal or catching up with a good friend, joy is something that we yearn for and are constantly searching for.
Why is this? I believe it’s because of who we are and how we are made.
The Bible tells us that all humans have been created in God’s image.
That means we were designed to value the things that God values.
God brought us into being so that He might delight in us, much like a parent finds delight in their children.
He created the world in such a way that we would find joy and delight in every corner of Creation.
But so often we find that our quest for joy has become all too elusive. Finding that the joy from our experiences is not enough, we crave for more and more until eventually we find that our search for joy has left us trapped in a world of misery.
As a parent I enjoy giving good gifts to my children because I delight in the joy that they show in those gifts.
But wouldn’t it be a tragedy if my children only ever connected with the toys and never found the true joy of a loving relationship with their parents?
In the same way, it’s right and good for us to find joy and pleasure in the world that God has given us, but our ultimate joy is only found in delighting in God Himself.
As the British author C. S. Lewis writes: "We are far too easily pleased … fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us’".
Instead, the Bible tells us to look to Jesus, "who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross".
He didn’t grasp at the fleeting joys and comforts of this life, but gave them all up for our sake, so that we might find lasting joy by putting our trust in Him.
Experiencing the pleasure of delighting in the source of true and lasting joy? That’s something to sing about.
New Life Baptist Church