Looking for Joy
I have to be very honest and admit, joy has felt scarce lately.
Suffering and troubles seem the norm, personally, collectively, our planet is struggling.
Depression is at an all time high, anxiety is commonplace, and weariness is like a cloak we wear, a heavy garment we would like to shed.
So where’s the joy?
In this advent waiting, we look for joy. And find it in the most unexpected places.
I found it in this beautiful psalm,
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Gods presence brings me joy. I found it today at the bedside of a dying mother, who took comfort in Psalm 23 while her son held her in love, moved by the words. Even in the shadow of death, the Shepherd promised “I am with you”.
I found it in the yearnings of a grieving father who needed to hear the words “God loves you. You are not forsaken. God is the God of second chances, of redemption for all”.
I found it in the “chance” encounter with a dear friend, shaken by difficult news, yet the comfort of our meeting unexpectedly brought us both comfort and joy. Emmanuel, God is with us.
In the suffering, the uncertainties, our Creator shows up, again and again.
He showed up in my morning reading as I wrestled with the thought about writing about joy. I wasn’t feeling it.
And then I open my email and find THIS:
“Joy is hidden in sorrow…. We need to remind each other that the cup of sorrow is also the cup of joy, that precisely what causes us sadness can become the fertile ground for gladness. Indeed we need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.” -Henri Nouwen
Joy, so different from happiness, is not based on circumstances or feelings. No, it is the wellspring of knowledge that we are loved, that we are known, that we are not alone.
May you and I know this deep joy in this season and every day.