Written by Carol Beaver, Legacy Coalition Church Advocate
The past six months have been unique in our lifetimes. Most of us have lived through wars, diseases, hardship, civil unrest, and fluctuating markets, be they financial or grocery. We have watched and listened in horror, not just for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren as they experience the devastation of these times. Our toolbox has been mostly prayer.
Joy can be hard to find these days. Too often we recite a litany of what went wrong. Grandparents and parents do it, and so do many children.
Yet, as I ponder, I remember James said, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”. James said to consider it joy when you have a trial. That is hard to do, even more so when we see that our children and our grandchildren are impacted so strongly. Should we grandparents be looking for the joy to be found in all of this? Absolutely. We should not only find it, but we should also share it and lead the way in finding even small joys with our families, whether near or far.
What is “considering joy” from a Christian perspective – as an orientation of the heart that “embodies contentment, confidence, and hope.” (Theopedia) The joy of a relationship with Jesus brings calm and peace to our souls. Perhaps this is truly the joy of the Lord. Being told to count it all joy when we experience troubles and trials can be understood in this definition of joy. We come to a point of accepting the situation, knowing that God is with us even when we cannot see Him or even feel Him. Understanding that He is there allows us to relax and trust, which produces contentment, confidence, and hope.
From the world’s perspective, joy is an emotion of happiness, bliss, or delight. That sounds more like what I first think of as joy, but I cannot wrap my brain around any of those words in conjunction with trials and troubles. Still, I wonder if those words describe joy. I find those moments when I just get delighted with something that God does or shows me and realize they are moments of joy, by both standards.
I have been vicariously experiencing some amazing sunrises and sunsets. As photos take my breath away, I feel joy, God’s joy shared with me in a sky He painted!
My father died when I was a month shy of 15. I know I was a light to his heart and in turn, he was my DADDY. Our special bond felt severed and destroyed when I saw his body on the bed, and my tears did not awaken him. I could not understand how God to do that. I was angry at God, but even as my mom and I planned the funeral service, the first thoughts that my dad was alive in heaven began seeping into my soul. I chose a song for the soloist to sing. The words expressed my heart and what God was already doing.
Shadows of evening are falling, dark with depression and fear, but to my heart they are calling, Jesus the Savior is near…Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice…grief shall give way to rejoicing when Christ the King shall return.
I began to process that my dad might not have become a true believer if he had not suffered and been forced to consider eternity. He did give his life to Jesus and was blessed to live long enough to serve the Lord in the church before the end. I started understanding that God had a plan, and the Lord showed me that even in sorrow, I could rejoice.
Joy sometimes comes when we invite it; when we open our eyes to experience tiny joys that make us smile, and then glance upward with a smile and a “thank you” to the Giver of Joy. Those tiny little things that make our hearts momentarily lighter and turn eyes to Him absolutely count as experiencing JOY.
So once again look for the little joys and get ready for the big ones, because the Ultimate Joy is coming.