The title of C.S. Lewis’ autobiography, “Surprised by Joy,” is taken from the first line of a William Wordsworth poem that goes, “Surprised by joy, impatient as the wind.” Joy is the great theme of the gospel from the beginning when the messenger of God announces, “Behold I bring you good news of great Joy!” – to the crucifixion in which followers are encouraged to “Fix your eyes on Jesus, who for the joy before Him, endured the cross.”
It is what I touch on in What Joy (χαρα) means to me, and is a constant current that energizes the spiritual life. Today’s prayer comes from Blaise Pascal’s (1623-1662) encounter with God that exults in joy. Richard Foster writes, “By the time he was thirty-one he was well known for his contributions in the fields of math and science. However it was in that year that he visited his sister at a religious community in Port Royal, where he heard a sermon that brought about a profound religious experience. He remembered that day – November 23, 1654 – as a key moment in his life. He wrote the following on a piece of paper, sewed into the lining of his coat, and carried it with him for the rest of his life:”
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,
Not of the philosophers and scholars.
Certainty, Certainty, heartfelt joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ.
Joy, joy, joy, oceans of joy!