The word Joy keeps resurfacing in my life. All throughout the month of February, that pesky little word kept invading my grief as if to say, “Get up, get up and keep moving forward.”
You see, Joy took a little vacation from my life starting back in November. I checked out of Thanksgiving. I cried through Christmas. And for the entire month of January I just sort of existed in a perpetual state of sadness.
Then along comes February, singing its infuriating little song: “Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy…”
Where? I wonder.
“Down in your heart, silly,” Joy says with a giggle.
If I have any trace of that Sunday School Joy remaining deep down in my heart, I think it’s safe to say it’s buried beneath quite the pile of rubble right now. Yet the words that keep haunting me at every turn are those of James:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
I don’t know about you, but Joy isn’t exactly my natural response to troubling situations. I prefer to wallow in my misery, mourning deeply and artistically. I like to give Grief time to do its work and devastate me properly. I don’t want to think about how the testing of my faith produces perseverance; I just want to cry, dang it.
But this verse just kept on playing peekaboo with my heart. So I read the entire book of James and followed that up with the more sensible solution of searching my Bible’s concordance for other references to Joy, and that’s when I found this little gem tucked within the pages of Ecclesiastes 7:
“Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…”
I love how well those words parallel the words of James (while leaving room for deep, artistic grieving).
Consider it pure joy…
Be joyful… consider…
Prosperity and Adversity both have stories to tell. And while Joy may come as a result of the trial, it doesn’t actually show up until later. Sometimes much later.
I’m learning that Joy is cyclical, like everything else under the sun. Adversity will always take a swing at it, Trials will often tackle it to the mat, and Grief may sometimes hold it down for the count. And that’s okay.
Maybe I don’t have to feel guilty that Joy isn’t currently the reigning champion in my heart, so long as I’m willing to let her back in the ring.
The blows just keep on coming, but Peace is surprisingly holding her own, and Joy? Well, I think she has a fighting chance. That’s all that I can give her right now. I hope it’s enough.