It was January 1984, 35 years ago this month, when I first heard Van Halen’s then-new song “Jump” while on a shopping trip at (Canadian drugstore chain) London Drugs. I was mesmerized. And it’s been one of my favorite songs ever since.
A few months later, I was watching the afternoon Canadian rock video show Video Hits on CBC when “Jump” came on. My dad walked in and, after watching David Lee Roth’s frontman antics for a tense 30 seconds, he grumbled: “Punk“.
At the time, I couldn’t explain what I liked so much about the song. It wasn’t simply Eddie’s dazzling guitar and keyboards, Diamond Dave’s sheer attitude, Alex’s irrepressible drums, and Michael’s driving bass. It was something more than the sum of those parts.
It was joy.
What is joy? It isn’t happiness, a fleeting emotion that can change with one’s circumstances. Joy is something deeper, that abiding sense of satisfaction, of wellness, of shalom, that carries one through the difficult times. In the worst of times, it may seem to disappear altogether, but even then it remains as a steel thread of hope. And all the while, joy abides.
Joy is central to the Christian worldview. Indeed, when I wrote an ecclesiology paper for Stanley Grenz 22 years ago, I argued that the unique hallmark of the people of God is this: it is joy. Indeed, his letter to the Philippians, written in the most difficult of circumstances, Paul’s perspective is transformed by joy. And as the letter draws to a close, he shares these words: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4; cf. 1 Thess. 5:16)
Or in the words of David Lee Roth:
I get up, and nothin’ gets me down
You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around
And I know, baby, just how you feel
You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real
Indeed, we all need to get to what’s real, for therein real joy is found.
This Epiphany, may you find joy in some unexpected places.