Give me back the joy
Updated: Nov 1, 2022
of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. Psalm 51:14
I just finished companioning 7 lovely women through their 5-day individually directed retreats at Weber Retreat Center in Adrian. It was a sacred time, with each person following their own path, working through their own issues, seeking to grow in relationship with God. Given the intensity of their journeys, it struck me that life is not easy. So much happens to each of us because of the brokenness of others, and our resultant brokenness, that is painful and difficult. But yet, those challenges are what often lead us to grow to become more healthy, holy, and loving people.
This speaks to me of the ability to see, and live in the realization of, the bigger picture. To rise above the daily challenges and annoyances and even pain, to stay focused on the big picture of our salvation – eternal life with God. At this time of year, All Saints and All Souls days, remind us of that bigger, eternal picture – that life here on earth is only part of the story. Indeed, God wants us to be joyful here in this earthly life, but more importantly, God wants us to have a joyful eternal life.
That indeed, is the fundamental struggle of life – now and not yet. How easy it is to get bogged down in the “now” – the little (and even big) things that are not going our way, the unkind words of another, the stressors of rising prices, too much work to be done or failing health. Yet, while we struggle with all that, we are called to keep our eye on the bigger, eternal picture – that we are a loved, treasured, child of God with a purpose. We are called to live in this seemingly paradoxical reality – yes, life is difficult AND we are called to live in joy.
We all know people for whom joy seems to come naturally, but for most of us, that is not the case. Rather, it is a hard-fought daily battle of pushing beyond the hurts, fears, disappointments, stresses, and busyness of this life, while keeping sight of the truth that God loves us and is always working to bring good – love, peace, hope, and joy - to us and to this world, and that ultimately, all will be well. I recently heard a lovely song lyric that said “If it’s not good, God’s not done.” How different might our attitude be if we were constantly looking for the good in all of our life encounters, with a curious mindset of “I wonder how God is using this situation to bring good”?