I held a grieving friend in my arms this week, absorbed the weight of her story and, together under a cold rain, we prayed for joy. Not the surface kind of happiness that comes from relief of weighty circumstances, but the kind of joy that anchors a soul to what is true even in the throes of sorrow.
Many of us are aware that Christian joy is more fact than feeling; a foundation that holds us up rather than the giddiness of temporary pleasure. But what does joy look like in real life? How does it manifest itself in drudgery or despair?
We might differ in our definition of joy or in how we experience it due to our background and temperament. Nevertheless, it is to be a hallmark of our faith and a daily reality; paradoxically, it often becomes most tangible when we are suffering.
This is how I see it:
Joy comes through presence; the presence of God who creates joy, lives joy, lavishes joy.
Joy comes through fellowship with our fellow adventurers; our journey-makers. Joy is the lamp we light between us.
Joy comes through beauty; by color and flight and trees filtering the morning light. Joy is the noticing.
Joy comes through knowing and being known; by holding space in the life of another. Joy is welcome.
Joy comes through belonging; finding a place to fit. A home created for our souls to inhabit. A refuge for our hearts.
Joy comes through effort and habit and hope. It is the guardian of our wandering, our wondering, our weakness and our weariness.
Let’s choose joy this day. Let’s choose to be held and whole within its circle; within the embrace of the God who endured the worst for its promise. Let’s choose the joy that runs deeper than our feelings, the joy that whispers into our sorrows and dogs our steps along this narrow way.
Let’s choose joy, because joy has chosen us. We cannot escape its sacred promise, its steady pursuit in the darkness; its whisper of morning just around the bend.
Let’s allow ourselves to be wooed and won again this day, awake to the life and love poured out for us. For our joy. And for His.