An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

When the skeptic-turned-believer C. S. Lewis wrote an autobiographical account of his early years, he called it Surprised by Joy. One of the central points Lewis made was that joy is not automatic. It is not something you can buy at the store. It is not something you can look for with any assurance of finding it. Instead, joy finds you. Sometimes, when you least expect it, you may be surprised by joy.

Have you ever experienced one of those serendipitous moments when the sun broke through the clouds, or a rainbow caught your eye, and you began to see beauty peeking out from unexpected places?

Indeed, the sweetest joy may come in the midst of a day that seemed bleak or boring when it began. You may hear the words of a song, or catch the laughter of children at play, or call up a beautiful memory — and a flicker of joy may touch your soul with unaccustomed warmth.

That kind of surprising joy is an amazing gift of God, I think. And, when our hearts are open and hopeful, that gift will find us, even when we least expect it.

The Psalmist seemed to profess something of that joy when he celebrated Israel’s miraculous return from Babylon with these words:

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
(Psalm 126:1-3)

Watch for it today … you may be surprised by joy.

[The photo, from Maili Beach on the southwest coast of Oahu, is one of those beautiful memories that bring me joy.]

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