Our church has some families that are going through difficult times right now: there are struggles in finding employment, struggles with acute grief, struggles in broken relationships, and others.
Finding joy in difficult times is hard, probably because we have an understanding of the word that needs tweaking. When many people think of joy, they think of happiness and laughter, smiling faces and optimism. And so the idea that when we face tragedy, or disappointment, we should try to find joy or “rejoice always” can seem impossible.
But the Bible doesn’t tell us to be happy always, but to rejoice. I think of joy as a deep sense and conviction that God’s presence – God’s grace and love – is permeating our life; that it will not let us go, regardless of our circumstances.
Of course, just that thought alone can bring a smile to our face. But the idea of God committing and choosing to be a part of our lives, whether we are soaring high in a moment of achievement, or in a moment of real despair, and us recognizing and accepting that diving presence, is what produces joy that goes beyond happiness or a smile; it is a sense of contentment, that we are not alone on our journey.
Of course, joy is not something that we can just snap our fingers together to find. It is something that requires a regular, consistent commitment on our part to meditate and dwell on God’s presence.
The obvious time that this commitment can begin to take root in us is when we are gathered together for worship, and where the Bible promises us that God is present. So let us make the decision together that in worship today, we will dwell on God’s permeating love and grace which has built this church, brought us together, and seeks to build our community in God’s image.