Reflections on Joy – Guest Post by Ryan Hall
Olympic runner, Ryan Hall, is a friend of Chosen. As an elite athlete and adoptive father of 4 girls, he speaks with authority and experience on what it means to face life’s challenges with joy. We hope this encourages and inspires you!
I think it’s safe to say that we would all like a joy-filled life. But often the path to true joy isn’t what we would expect. I have found that some of my most profound moments of joy have come in the wake of being immersed in, and overcoming, extreme discomfort, pain, and hardship. Maybe you can relate!
In every marathon I’ve run (except the 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials…I’m still not sure why that marathon never hurt), I’ve been in an extreme amount of pain and had to battle through the screaming of my body trying to get me to slow down. However, every time I crossed the finish line the pain seemed to vanish and all I felt was the pure joy of having accomplished something that I wasn’t sure I could do.
It’s interesting how going through challenging times increases my perception of joy. I like to remind myself of this when I’m feeling low, perhaps a little joy deprived, and I feel like turning on Netflix and zoning out to The Office (I’m not saying there isn’t ever an appropriate time for enjoying some comedy). The temptation is to make myself feel better immediately by doing something that will bring a physically good feeling to my body (i.e., eating sugary and fatty foods, laughing, hot tubs, massage, etc.). While these things aren’t inherently bad, and they do bring a temporary level of physical comfort, I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as bringing joy. In fact, I would argue that if someone were to only do things that made them feel good it would lead to a very joy-less life. There is a big difference between feeling good and being filled with joy.
To me the difference lies in how long the satisfaction lasts. For example, consider the mother that has just given birth. She goes from one moment of intense pain to a moment of inexpressible joy. The joy she feels after she gives birth ultimately lasts a lifetime as she watches her child grow (sure, not every moment is joy-filled but the overall experience is one of joy despite there being many hard, frustrating, annoying (let’s be honest), and tear-filled moments). Perhaps, to really experience true and lasting joy there must be pain endured and hard times overcome.
When I think of joy, I always think of Jesus and how it was said that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him.” The cross was actually part of the process Jesus had to go through to enter into the eternal joy of redeeming all of mankind.
I want to encourage you to change how you think about the challenges facing you and the hardships that lie ahead. I would urge you to see the pain and suffering as the path to joy. It’s knowing that there is inexpressible joy lying on the other side of our pain that gives us the strength to endure more than we ever thought possible.