STORY: Behind the Rhymes: Jackie Hill Perry – The Art of Joy

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News of Jackie Hill Perry’s new album brought fans joy this summer — joy surely informed by their appreciation of her previous LP, The Art of Joy

The title track of The Art of Joy takes center stage for’s Behind the Rhymes series, which examines Scripture that inspired songs on our “Joy in God Through Hip Hop” Spotify playlist.

“God created me for joy,” Hill Perry told in a 2014 interview about her album. “God created me for happiness — in himself, though. That doesn’t mean some butterfly feeling. It’s not like I’m going to just be this cheery person, because we’re going to have to suffer as Christians. But I believe in the midst of suffering, we can have joy in God. It’s been one thing that has really, really, really changed my heart and my thinking as a believer.”

Hill Perry painted the clearest picture of this concept on the title track of The Art of Joy, the last of the 11-song project. Its hook:

You make us happy when we look at you /
You make us happy when we look for you /
Satisfaction only happens to those /
Who are glad in you

Who is “you?”

God. “Satisfaction only happens to those who are glad in God.” Hill Perry said earlier in the album, “If pleasure is our aim, then we’ll find it when our God is who our target is” (“The Argument”).

The argument that God is a source of pleasure is made throughout the Bible, particularly in Psalms.

  • Psalm 16:11: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • Psalm 17:15: “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”
  • Psalm 21:6: “For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.”
  • Psalm 43:4: “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.”

As satisfied as the Psalmists were, Christians today have an advantage over them at looking for joy in God. Christians today have Jesus, whose life, death and resurrection in Scripture paint the clearest picture of God’s glory.

Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:6-11).

This is why Jesus could claim a monopoly on satisfaction. The infinitely valuable Son of God became like us, faced every temptation we have, stayed sinless and bore the wrath of the Father for every sinner who would ever believe in him (Hebrews 4:15John 3:16).

If this news fails to make you more joyful than when your favorite football team wins this fall, you haven’t grasped it. Pray you grasp it.

Before his crucifixion, Jesus told a woman at a well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13).

On “The Art of Joy”, Hill Perry wrote about drinking from wells that did not quench thirst until she looked at the cross, the finished work (John 19:30).

I tried to find joy in everything /
Searched a couple mountains /
Even thought I could get it from two from fifteens /
That filled my lungs with something higher and inspire me like a sixteen or Sistine /
It didn’t work /
But what did it was the finished work /
Brought me back to Himself /
Now I’m living in reverse /
Seeing good gifts as a glimpse of the Giver /
Not the gifts as a giver /
Merry Christmas if the vision works


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