Vive la Joie …. (Long Live Joy)
Her room is dark, except for the streetlight allowing me to see if her eyes are open or closed. I sing songs of edelweiss & a spoonful of sugar while she chooses to snuggle or play with my face. And in the midst of such purity, such love, every fear imaginable crosses my mind. I have to fight for joy.
Gratitude makes way for joy, but we have to do some manual labor to carve the path, especially when we don’t want to give thanks. To be joy-filled is to be vulnerable, and fear is a false way of protecting ourselves from pain. Bitter times are here & will continue to come—it’s a sharp truth to swallow. We are a people leaning heavily on our emotions—when life is great, we live on this high, & when things get tough, we sink quicker than stone. Wisdom teaches us that joy is not the same as happiness, & joy does not have to be separate from grief. Joy is choosing to rely on what we know versus how we feel. I don’t think anyone has shown this joy better than King David:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
He doesn’t deny the pain and suffering of his own heart, but as he grieves, he also chooses joy by voicing God’s goodness. David shows gratitude.
Jennie Allen phrases this perfectly:
We see Paris—thousands of miles away, & we mourn alongside them. Our thoughts towards those six men are a furious fire, & we fear the chances of this brutality coming for us & our people. Joy seems impossible, but that’s when we confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is being glad with our situation—Joy is deeper than happiness. In moments on mountaintops, joy is taking time to give thanks. But on days when the briefest of light is hard to find, joy is believing & reminding ourselves we are loved by God, & He is good. Joy is Jesus, so in any given moment we put our focus on Jesus, we put our focus on joy, the most powerful balm for grief.
What joy brings to the table is hope. Joy gives light to our voices so we are available to connect with others, empathizing together, grieving together. Joy reminds our hearts that though we struggle to stay afloat today, we have our God who is our refuge and our mighty victor over death. This is the message we pray every hurting heart in our neighborhood, in Paris, & around the world will hear.
It’s a routine practice by now that is never mastered. Choosing which thoughts to dismiss & which ones to harbor takes power, so I say His name, sometimes in my mind & sometimes in an audible whisper—Jesus. Just by voicing the name of God, my mind is reminded I was not created with a spirit of fear. I say His name over and over. I pray for the faith to always see His goodness and the courage to believe He is stronger than pain, stronger than hate. I kiss her forehead. I remind myself her life is God’s, not mine. He whispers His protection over her and love for her is far greater than I could dream. I keep singing as we rock to sleep.
Music is amazing all the time, but especially so in times of struggle– & this song is awesome. It’s the first track on Shane & Shane’s new album, Psalms, Vol. 2, titled Psalm 46. Here’s a behind the scenes video with the song.