Finding joy is difficult in this season of intense togetherness, isolation and stress on our mental health, but I think experiencing it from time to time is a necessary medicine. Joy has a way of lightening my heart, giving rest to my soul. It turns my eyes away from myself for a moment. Both the lightness and reorientation joy offers, no matter how briefly, seem to meet a deeper need in me. I will reflect a little here on God’s joy and savour a few of my own recent experiences of joy.
What brings God joy? In Genesis we savour His pleasure in His created world, including us humans when Moses tells us: “God looked over everything He had made, it was so good, so very good!” (Genesis 1:31 Msg). David explains that God’s delight in him actually moved God to rescue and place him on the throne of Israel (2 Sam 22:20, 1 Kings 10:9). Zephaniah also shares a moving picture of God in the midst of His people, rejoicing over them “with joyful songs.” (Zeph 3:17c). Heaven’s joy couldn’t be contained at Jesus’ birth when the angel was joined by a vast host of others filling the skies over Bethlehem and announcing to the shepherds “peace on earth…” (Luke 2:14:15). We also read that there is much joy in heaven when someone repents, turns back “home” to God (Luke 15:7) Finally, among many enlightening moments of God’s joy is how the heavens opened at Jesus’ baptism and the Father’s voice was heard to say “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matt. 3:17)
So, what has brought me needed moments of joy these days? Birds visiting the birdbath in our backyard and feeding at our feeder. Trees budding and flowers popping up after a long winter. Planning and creating meals for those I love who are in social isolation with me. Talking with friends God has given me on this spiritual journey with Jesus. Being reminded almost daily that His love and affection towards me never wane even when mine for Him do.
Finally, let me share a moment when I was, like CS Lewis put it, “surprised by joy”. Last week the manager at my mother's retirement home sent out an email invitation. She asked us to join in a celebration of a resident who was turning 100! The day arrived and we lined up as one among 30 cars, all decked out with banners, flags, balloons, and some posters created by house-bound children. When the “birthday boy” had been brought to the front-facing fenced-off patio, we all drove slowly by with our windows down and horns blaring. First we passed the main entrance lined with masked health care workers all applauding. My husband overheard one care-giver say “my heart is going to burst!” As we drove slowly by “Bob”, he stood there bowing and blowing grateful kisses at us. What a precious and creative human moment of joy this was. We all had tears in our eyes . This not only brought joy to the precious 100-year-old but also a needed moment of lightness to all of us including the staff so weighed down with their responsibilities amid COVID concerns.
What do you see God rejoicing in these days? How does it feel to know He rejoices over you with songs of joy? What recent moments of joy can you recall and savour as medicine for the soul?
Lord Jesus. Thank you for joy, fruit of your Spirit. Grace us with joy that lifts our heaviness. Re-orient us to yourself and your love. Bring joy to our hearts at some of the beautiful moments you give in prayer and in life. May your joy be evident in this your needy world.