The God With Us Podcast

What is Joy? And the Face of God (Foundational Ep. 2)

October 17, 2019 Geoff Holsclaw
The God With Us Podcast
What is Joy? And the Face of God (Foundational Ep. 2)
Chapters
The God With Us Podcast
What is Joy? And the Face of God (Foundational Ep. 2)
Oct 17, 2019
Geoff Holsclaw

How does joy and the face of God fit together?

We have personal barriers, cultural barriers, and theological barriers to understanding joy. In this episode Cyd and Geoff explore these three barriers to joy, and why joy is essential to understanding what it means that God is truly with us.

Joy is not happiness. And joy isn't pretending things aren't bad.

Rather, JOY is being in the presence of someone who is glad to be with you. Joy is an interpresonal state. Happiness can be felt alone. But joy is always in connection with another person.

We cover the neuroscience of joy in the development of babies, the preistly blessing of God over Israel (Numbers 6:23-26), and the delight of God over us all.

For more on this foundation of joy, see the first couple of chapters (free) from Does God Really Like Me?

And please join the God With Us Podcast Community, where you'll get updates, resources, and be able to continue the conversation, and even help us plan future episodes.

Show Notes Transcript

How does joy and the face of God fit together?

We have personal barriers, cultural barriers, and theological barriers to understanding joy. In this episode Cyd and Geoff explore these three barriers to joy, and why joy is essential to understanding what it means that God is truly with us.

Joy is not happiness. And joy isn't pretending things aren't bad.

Rather, JOY is being in the presence of someone who is glad to be with you. Joy is an interpresonal state. Happiness can be felt alone. But joy is always in connection with another person.

We cover the neuroscience of joy in the development of babies, the preistly blessing of God over Israel (Numbers 6:23-26), and the delight of God over us all.

For more on this foundation of joy, see the first couple of chapters (free) from Does God Really Like Me?

And please join the God With Us Podcast Community, where you'll get updates, resources, and be able to continue the conversation, and even help us plan future episodes.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the God with us podcast with Jeff and Sid Holsclaw where we explore God's presence and purpose in everyday life. If you've ever had trouble imagining how you can connect with God in your every day ordinary moments, join us and join our conversation as we explore those things today we're talking about joy last on our last episode. You're never alone. We talked about why this podcast is so important to us and why we just can't ever stop talking about God with us. And we said in that episode that this time we were going to talk all about joy, which I'm really excited to do. It brings me joy. You're really excited about talking about joy also. Very good. Yeah, but I think we need to start with thinking about what is joy because joy can be, you know, it's kind of strange to think about joy. So we're going to talk about sort of where joy comes from, how it's developed, what it has to do with our identity, what it isn't, what it is, where we see it in scripture.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. What it isn't, I think is important. Joy can be confusing and I think some people are already put off like, Oh my gosh, we're going to have these happy clappy charismatic Pentecostals who deny the reality of life and kind of ignore all the pain that is around them or the rent , and it's just so that they can be happy or something like that. Right , and so I know some people won't have preached when you've taught, when we've talked about joy, it kind of can be a shutdown kind of moment because joy can be really confusing. And then we run into all sorts of passages like Hebrews 12 two which says about Jesus for the joy set before him, he endured the cross. How can you have joy and dying on a cross miserably? How do those two things fit ?

Speaker 1:

Well, even before that, even before we talk about that, I feel like there is, before we talk about Jesus, yeah. Even before we talk about Jesus, because I think we need to talk a little bit more about the confusion around joy because I think what, what I know I have experienced is sometimes people will sort of say, but I'm holding on to joy as they're struggling through something because they know that's what they're supposed to say. And so it's sort of like this bear down like grit your teeth and say, but it's okay. Which is not what joy is. Joy is not this sense of like everything is miserable, but it's okay and that's, that's not what it is. So you want me to talk a little bit about like babies and,

Speaker 2:

no, not yet. I think there's other, there's other obstacles to joining the one. We're going to talk about the babies. They're so cute and they do bring joy, which is they come from a no, leave that out . Talk to your parents and friends about that. If you don't know. Uh , yes, we are going to talk about babies cause they are, that they spontaneously bring joy to others for the most part. But we're not gonna talk about them just yet. But I want to talk about three roadblocks , uh , about joy. Three roadblocks that keep us from understanding a joy in a more deep, and I would say even biblical sense. The first one is like the cultural command to be happy. And maybe this is kind of your sense of holding on to joy is like our culture basically is , has formed and shaped us into people that are supposed to be happy. You're supposed to find the things that make you happy. You're supposed to have the relationships that make you happy, find the job that makes you happy. And so we suffer that are not happy. It's your fault. Yeah, there's something wrong, go find something else. And so , uh, we actually have an anxiety about being happy, which is kind of this contradictory thing. Uh , we're told we're supposed to be happy and yet we suffer under that demand. It's like this new law, thou shall be happy and if learned , and if you're not, then it's someone else's fault or it's your fault. And it's like, okay. So that is all happening. I wanted to acknowledge that. But joy is in the constitution even, right? But a pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of happiness. So, but joy as we're going to talk about it is not happiness in your minds right now. Separate those two concepts with joy is not the same thing as happiness. The other thing that I think happens that is an obstacle to truly understanding what joy is, is that we can feel that like joy is for children. It's a childish thing, but that we've grown up like grownups don't feel joy because we live in a serious and broken world. And that it's kinda , it's, it's naive. It's kinda stupid to be so joyful because there's just so much going on that is so traumatic and so down and certainly attachment from reality. Yes. Yeah. So you're, you're pretty much kind of giving up on joy . So I think some of us have given up on joy. And then third one is that maybe a theological roadblock that says, ah , you should be afraid of God. God is a fearful, terrifying being, right . Who , um, who maybe is out to get us. Certainly we should honor God. We should respect God, we should worship God . And this is kind of what we talked about a little bit last time again. Right? And yeah, and I'm not saying any of those things are wrong, but I think sometimes we just put God in that category I've got is terrifying. And so therefore God can't be something that produces joy in us. Certainly , uh , we lose the aspect that maybe God is full of joy for us. Uh, and so I think those three roadblocks, one is that , uh , happiness and joy, the same thing. The other one is that we're too serious minded to be a joyful. And the other one is that God , uh, is something , uh , fearful, terrible , uh , reverence to be worshiped and is not something that brings not a person who brings us joy. And so we need to kind of move beyond some of those roadblocks.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So let's talk about that first one about how joy and happiness are not the same thing. Because that can be really, that's might be strange to think about. Um, cause we think about do whatever you want in this life. Do what will bring you joy. Right? And we see like, I mean even if you walk into places like hobby lobby where there's all these things that say choose joy. And I mean we have one in our house so I'm not going to knock it because I do believe you choose joy. But joy is maybe a little different than what people might be thinking. It's not like the choose happiness, it's choosing joy, which is different. So let's talk about those differences. Could choose

Speaker 2:

joy means is different than an emotion. So happiness is an emotion that's connected to circumstances or it's connected to the things we have your wellbeing. But joy

Speaker 1:

is something different. Yeah. So let's talk about that. So when baby's getting back to babies, so when babies are born, and I am not a neuroscientist, so I might not get any of this exactly correctly, but my understanding is that when babies are born, there are certain emotions that are hard wired into our brains from birth. Like would they ? They , they don't, they aren't learned. They aren't developed. They're just there automatically and they're there for our survival . So let's take for example, fear. Fear is hardwired into our brains when we're born because fear keeps us alive. So if a baby is babies can't do much cause they're kind of , they don't really move on their own yet. But fear is still there as a baby because fear is hardwired into our brains to keep us from, from walking into a cave full of tigers or from jumping into a pool of Puranas or yes, letting spiders climb all over us, which is your worst nightmare. So fear keeps us alive because it helps us avoid danger. But joy is actually not hard wired into your brain when you're born from the way I understand it. Instead, joy has to be built. It has to be learned and it has to be developed. So the neurons in your brain have to come together in certain ways in order for you to understand joy, to experience joy, and to sort of build like a foundation of joy. And so the way that that happens is that a baby hopefully is received into a family where the family has been anticipating the arrival of the baby. And they're glad when the baby comes. And so there's joy in the house because the baby, the , because the family is so glad that the baby is finally here. And so it's that gladness of the family to be in the presence of the baby that then shows up on their faces with smiles , um , with delight. Of course, there's also exhaustion, let's just be honest about it. But there's a joy, there's delight in their smiles. And the way that our brains are built is we actually have these mirror neurons where the baby is seeing the smiles and seeing the delight on the faces of the people who love. We'll just call her her so that it doesn't feel so impersonal. So all the people that [inaudible]

Speaker 2:

by her, we just mean the caregivers , primary caregivers, I mean the baby, all the baby . Oh , I think you're talking about the caregiver. Okay. The

Speaker 1:

caregiver is, we'll just say the caregiver is because men also are caregivers. So , but the little baby her, when she looks at the faces of her caregivers and she sees delight and she sees smiles, then the mirror neurons in her brain also experience the same emotions that the people who are looking at her are sort of giving off. It's almost like this, like they're radiating something and the baby picks up on the radiation or like absorbs the radioactivity. I know that doesn't, that makes it sound dangerous and awful, but

Speaker 2:

technically it's energy. So like we have electro , uh , neurons firing to make our faces , um, kind of make smiles and our eyes light up. And in a very real sense, that energy leaps in perceptively from our faces to the baby's face and it ignites a neuron nervous system response within the baby that that helps the baby's brains to grow. And so when there's a face looking into someone into someone else's face, there's a literal extent . There's an exchange of energy , um, between the two. That helps the baby to grow. Um , and that the brains, and this is shown in children who don't have that kind of attachment, who have deficient attachments , um , as well as , um, just other early childhood trauma, like their brains will develop differently because they weren't bathed in these joyful energy, that bathed in traumatic energy, right ,

Speaker 1:

is linked to the identity center of the brain. So as the, as the baby is experiencing more and more joy, they're also learning who they are and they're learning that they are the same person in every, like even when they're experience . So let's talk about what happens when a baby gets hurt. So if a baby is hurt or upset or crying about something and then the caregiver comes and comforts the baby and soothes them and connects with them again, then the baby is learning that they return back to joy from negative emotions so bad . And a lot of this is the work of Jim Wilder, and that's where we're getting a lot of this from. But when a baby is comforted by his character , by her, I'll go back to her. When a baby is comforted by her caregivers , she learns that she can get back to a place where her caregiver is glad to be with her, even though maybe she has a wet diaper or she has, you know, she's upset or she's hungry. Um, but even in a place of negativity, the caregiver comes and there's still this reconnection and this building of joy. And as that foundation of joy gets stronger and stronger, and as the child gets older and older than even when the child is may be playing at the park and falls down and hurts themselves, even if the caregiver isn't actually physically there , just the memory of all of the times that the baby was able , able to return to joy and at the toddler and the preschooler, as that girl remembers how all the different times that she's been able to return to joy in the presence of her caregiver. Then even when her caregiver isn't there, she'll be able to return to joy because her brain is trained to be able to do that. And so the thing that's really significant about joy is we're going to define joy as Jim Wilder does, is that joy is the experience of being with someone who is glad to be with you, which is really different than the idea of happiness. Happiness is like you can be happy all by yourself. You can be happy because you accomplished something or you can be happy because you're eating your favorite ice cream or you can be happy because you're sitting on a beach and you enjoy between your toes. Those are things you can do by yourself, but joy requires the experience of being with someone who's glad to be with you. Now, you can't experience joy in remembering someone who is glad to be with you or having been with someone who's glad to be with you and you can experience joy when you remember that God is always glad to be with you. So even though you can be by yourself experiencing joy, it's still in the memory of a relationship or a connection. It's not just all by yourself in isolation,

Speaker 2:

back back to the babies, to her, his children even before they can speak, have memories of the faces of their caregivers so that even if they're in a moment of distress and their caregiver is not with them, they could still self-sooth . Um , because they do have not just uh , an image but also the memory of a voice as well as the touch. Although the memory of the, of the face is primary. Once you get to about 12 to 18 months, that becomes the primary thing is the face of the caregiver. And then they look around their environment to see if that face will come back. And this goes back to our previous episode of, of you're not alone as is , is we can't develop joy when we're alone. And so God with us is the primary way that we can hold on and experience joy because people are going to let us down. But God is committed to being with us and not just being with us, but to a tune to hear what we need and is capable to do something about it. Which is what we talked about last time with this story, right

Speaker 1:

about how God sees, hears, understands, is with us and is doing something about it. He's for us.

Speaker 2:

All right. So we've, we've talked about joy as this relational , uh, definition. Could you say it one more time just so that

Speaker 1:

joy is the experience of being with someone who is glad to be with you.

Speaker 2:

And you can just think of a yourself, maybe when someone you loved visit visits that you haven't seen for a long time and you're like, Aw , I'm so glad to see him. Or maybe you as a parent when you come home and your kids are so glad to see you, it's like, it's that spontaneous. Everyone is so glad that everyone is here. Um, so with all of this in mind, it, it's amazing that if we look at numbers chapter six , um , and we hear about the blessing that God gave to Aaron . So Aaron was the first high priest over Israel and God gave Aaron the special blessing to say over Israel. And so I just went , I'm just going to S uh , read it, speak it right now. And I just want you to listen to something that's repeated twice, which is, should be amazing given all we've just said. So this is how you shall bless the Israelites. This is the number six verses 23 through 27. You shall go to them and say, the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and to be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face upon you and give you peace. This is how you show blessed Israel's Israelites . So twice in three verses, we hear that God's face is going to shine upon the Israelites. The first one is shine. This is like the idea of beaming. You know, when , um , like that energy exchange. Well, it's just like when someone's so excited, like you've done, you know, when, when a kid wants to show you some like little clay figuring that they made out of mud and they're so excited to show you in their faces beaming , uh , this is, this is what the uh, Aaron is told,

Speaker 1:

no, I wait. Beaming. Okay. Have you ever watched the groom at a wedding while you watch the Grimms at weddings? Okay, so yeah, so, so the, the beaming, I'm thinking about beaming, you know, where you've got this groom standing up in the, in the front and like, especially at weddings where he hasn't seen his bride beforehand and then you know, the doors open or whatever and everyone never watched the Bray . Everybody always watches the bride when she's walking though he's locked onto the group because the groom's face is like, Oh, like it's just like beaming. That to me is like a beaming,

Speaker 2:

which fits right into the idea that, you know, God is the bridegroom and humanity and all those who are in Christ are the, are the bride. And so God beams at beings as spaces beaming toward us . And then the other one is that God is turning his face toward us. It's kind of like God gives us his full attention. And so the blessing that Aaron has giving over the Israelites is that God's face is beaming in delight over you, and he's turning to give you his full attention. He is with you. His eyes are focused on you. And so what does that do to us? Given all the brand science stuff that we just talked about, that changes and transforms us, it's supposed to build joy. And so the fundamental blessing that is given over Israel is all about God's face. And it's all about building joy. And we hear about these things all over. When you start thinking about it, like in Psalm 67 may God be gracious to us and bless us and may his face shine upon us. A Psalm 31 16 a speaking to God. Let your face shine upon your servant. And so there's all this speak about God's face shining upon his people, blessing us and creating joy. Innocence. This is God with us bringing us joy.

Speaker 1:

You just said a whole lot. All right, well that was too much. No , it's all good. I just want to pause just a little bit and that like, I mean it's just it, it just amazes me over and over again how the very way that God created our brains to develop reflects what he has already shown us in the story of scripture. You know that as, I mean that that would be the blessing that God wants spoken over his people often, right ? That that's the blessing that he wants spoken over his people over and over and over again is may the Lord's face shine upon you, turn his face towards you. It's that it's that single minded devotion and affection and love for his people that God's never too busy to look and any of you who have parents had small children know that especially when you, right in that like preschool age or if you spent any time around preschoolers, it's like, watch me. Watch me do this, watch me do that. Did you see this? Look at this, look at that. It gets exhausting because as much as you want to take delight in everything that your child is doing, it's just really kind of impossible to really manufacture that much delight every single time they want to show you the same thing for the 30th time. But in this blessing, it's that God never grows tired of taking delight in that. He's never too busy. He's never got something else to do. He's, he's totally delighted.

Speaker 2:

He's excited to see that thing that you did and maybe you just got through a day of work with, you know, you just got through a day at work. Like God's excited with you to hear that. Or maybe, you know, you expressed your heart and your feelings to someone you know, that you're, you know, you're interested in as I got, you know, God wants to celebrate all those things that I think should help us understand maybe the idea of childlike face that we're supposed to become like children. A lot of times that just means, Oh , we're supposed to like trust God and you know, we're supposed to be helpless. Well , uh, what if it also means like bringing all those things to God and believing, look , look and believing that he's gonna delight with them. Do I think many of us kind of, we struggle with the idea that like God is putting up with us. He's disappointed with us.

Speaker 1:

It's not a big deal. Or why would, why would God want to take the time and energy to look at this with me?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And certainly sin and the disappointments of life and the hardships are not things to be ignored and God takes those things seriously. But can we remember that he delights in us? Um, and so when we're captive to sin, Jesus is coming to bring joy there. When we feel guilty because of our sins, Jesus longs to bring joy. Even when we're enemies, Jesus comes to die for us. And so God is always moving toward us to reestablish a joy. Is that something that we can start believing today? That's what this whole podcast is about.

Speaker 1:

Okay . Getting back to the thing where you talk about in Hebrews where it for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, right? That Jesus had in mind the whole time he was heading to the cross. This restoration of connection, this turning faces back toward each other, that the whole reason that the cross that he's on his way to the cross is to bring back, to restore relationship, to bring faces back to faces that God and humans would turn faces again toward that. That the humans would turn back to God again. That there would be the possibility of restored relationship, that joy would be renewed. And so that's why even in the midst of struggle and grief and torment and suffering in this life, we can still experience joy. Because even in the midst of that, we know that God is still glad to be with us. And that's why we can still experience joy even in the midst of sorrow, in pain. Amen.

Speaker 2:

Amen. And so this first episode of a , you're never alone and God is with us. And then the second episode where we're talking about the face of joy, what is joy? These are kind of like all about who is God and how are we in his presence? But the next two episodes that'll be coming up soon are going to be more about humanity. How has God made humanity to be and to live within this place of joy? And so we're going to be talking about , uh , being made in God's image into two different aspects of those. So those will be coming up , uh, very soon so you can subscribe and I didn't write these all downs and see if I can remember. You can subscribe and follow this podcast. We're going to be on Spotify or we are on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Android devices. We'll be all those different places. So please subscribe. Share on the social media is to , I did not say YouTube, so these episodes will be on YouTube also if you view things that way. But thank you for being with us. And yeah, we'll see you next time.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] .