Surprised by Joy (2002 Open Forum) – Gospel in Life

Surprised by Joy (2002 Open Forum)

Tim Keller |  October 6, 2002

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  • Purpose and Calling
OF 28


The subject of this talk is one of those perennial human questions. Joy, happiness–what is it? How do you get it? In these gospel spirituals, we see the celebration of the oldest roots of the African American music, which said the solution to the joy problem is the message of the Christian gospel.

I would suggest to you that there are three themes in the music. The first is that there’s a joy vacuum that’s very deep in the human heart. Secondly, there are joy strategies every human being has. You have some way of trying to fill that joy vacuum. You might have this one or that one. You may change them, but there are joy strategies. And lastly, this music has a solution for the joy vacuum.

Reflections on a Sermon

We’re going to talk about gospel music and its unique power to express deep joy, even when it’s not about religious topics. We’ll delve into themes of happiness, love, and the courage to be open and vulnerable. We’ll discuss the idea of a “joy vacuum”. It’s like this – adults chase joy passionately, but when things don’t go as planned, it can lead to a crushing inward collapse, just like a black hole. In the end, we’ll see that true joy and fulfillment comes from trusting Jesus. The fact that we have desires that can’t be completely satisfied suggests that there’s a bigger plan for us and that God exists.



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