Today, as I worshipped online Adam Hamilton gave this challenge to his listeners and I want to share it with you. “What are you doing to share joy?” We are living in a time of dislocation which can lead to despair. Despair is when we believe that tomorrow will be no better than today, and we fear it might even be worse. Perhaps you are feeling some of that despair.
There are lots of people who are struggling in our midst. We have people in various senior housing and care facilities who have been cut off from their loved ones. We have people who have become primary caregivers for spouses who are dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We have families who are struggling to help their children with home schooling and to provide enrichment when everything is shut down.
We have people who need joy. We have a gift to give. If we are one who is struggling with despair or anxiety we might be thinking, well I can’t do that. I don’t feel any joy. But here is the thing. If you can find it in yourself to reach out to another with a positive message, a hope-filled message a joyous thought, you will find your despair and anxiety lifting, at least a bit. If you are not particularly anxious about today and you have a positive view of the future that you really have a gift to share. I know it is hard to remain positive, to be patient, to be joy-filled, and to find meaning always in the midst of these difficult times, but we can, with God’s help, find ways to share joy. It will be a blessing to us and to the one we share it with.
With all this, I am reminded of a scripture that I go to when I am struggling with the heaviness of life. It comes from the Apostle Paul who was writing to the Corinthians. We believe his second letter was written after the faithful had experienced persecution by the authorities. He shares where he has found strength in challenging times and we know Paul was continually harassed and persecuted. I like how the Message Version translates 2 Corinthian 4:8 (from the Message)
We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.
I particularly like these words, “I am not sure what to do but we know that God knows what to do.” That gives me hope. It also reminds me that I do not have to have all the answers. One of the things that worry mental health professionals is that people are internalizing too much of their angst. They do not want to appear weak, so they strive to project a level of confidence that they might not have. Sharing joy does not preclude talking to others about the difficult stuff of life. We need to share when we are hurting, when things are hard, when we get low. Just talking about it is therapeutic and often we find that the one we share our concerns with has some vital piece of wisdom that helps us. In sharing we are reminded that we are not alone, God is at our side! Knowing another is praying for us, gives us a bit of joy. Life might throw a lot at us and we may not know what to do but God knows. When we are open to love, to help, and to support, we will never be broken. When we share joy, we are renewed, we are living hopefully into the future believing that tomorrow will be better than today. And who knows what power that joy-filled moment might give to another.
I think of a teacher writing about how hard it was to keep her students motivated online. She wondered if she was doing any good at all. She was beginning to feel overwhelmed with despair and then she received a note from one of the students thanking her for all the help she had provided. It filled her with joy and changed her perspective on everything.
What can you do to share joy this week? Write a note, send an email, or make a call. Let someone know that what they do matters to you and you appreciate it. Find a way to make another laugh with you at life. Remind yourself and others that God is with us, we will get through this and celebrate.
Let us pray:
O God of hope and joy be with us now. If we are feeling anxious may we hear your words of hope. If we are feeling depressed may we be surrounded by love and reassurance. And most of all, help us to know who we can share joy with this week in your name. Amen.
We are again gathered at the Lord’s Table, a symbol of hope, forgiveness, and yes, joy. We recall how Jesus gathered with his disciples and at the end of the Passover meal took bread and broke it and gave it to them sharing it was his body broken for them. And how he took a cup of wine and blessed it and shared it with them in the hope of new beginnings through him.
Let us pray:
God of life and hope forgiveness and joy, we thank you that you have blessed all who follow you down through the ages to this very night. May your Spirit fill each of us with its power. And most of all for your sacrificial love for us we give you thanks. Amen.
I pray God’s blessings on you this evening and I hope you join me tomorrow night as we recall the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Good Night.