My deck umbrella waves in the slight spring wind as I sit under its shade. God has granted a beautiful morning and time for reflection.
So beautiful outside yet not so lovely within. Still struggling with grief and questions about ‘tomorrow.’ Disgusted with myself that I cannot find even a drop of joy when I face uncomfortable circumstances.
“Count it all joy,” the Apostle James demands (James 1:2).
I have never quite understood or agreed with that verse, especially when I am not in a joyful place. My faith is too weak. In this current stage, I cannot find endurance, cannot let patience do its thorough work.
Waiting is too hard.
I think of the brave women I know who live with chronic pain. Somehow, they find their joy even in the harsh reality of the struggle — the everydayness of suffering. They do what they can while setting healthy boundaries. My she-roes, every one of them.
But I cannot reproduce what they own. My joy button needs to be reset, and I cannot find the mechanism.
What would I tell counseling clients? Attempt joyful activities, journal through the struggle, work on a puzzle, bang on the piano.
I try these and fail.
The feeling of joy — that inner light that sparkles in the eyes of my friend who has multiple sclerosis, the laughter that bubbles from infants, the glow shining from weathered saints’ faces — that brand of joy eludes me. My faith is out of sync.
How do I unplug my soul and reboot?
Yet hope peeks from behind the curtain of Psalm 68. The Divine Three call me to believe the promise, “God is beginning to rise….”
Just knowing there will be a beginning brings hope and the confirmation that God is present. A sudden blip of peace.
The Psalm urges me toward nuggets of hope:
- “Let the uncompromisingly righteous be glad.”
- “Let them be in high spirits.”
- “Let them glory before God and rejoice in him.”
How does this ‘letting’ happen? How can I manufacture joy?
The solution whispers in Psalm 68:4. Sing to God. Sing praises to his name. Be in high spirits and glory before him with song. SING!
So I move to my back yard to dance near the strawberry patch. Lift my hands upward. The song comes timidly at first, a familiar melody that I give different lyrics.
No soul response yet, so I dig deeper and sing louder, uncaring if the neighbors look out and see me cavorting with God in my back yard.
The hallelujahs of melody begin to ring true. Singing the words of the Psalm, I forget the rules of musical theory. The important focus is on the spirit that is shared, the content so vital.
Ignore the memories of the past week, the frailties of my humanity. Accept and honor the grief as a signal of love. Forget to worry about the future. Fret not.
Instead, lift praises to the only One who truly knows the condition of my soul. Then a bubble of joy resurfaces and lights my inner self with its purity.
God sends a dragonfly to dance with me. He flaps his lacey wings in response to the beat of my creative worship. Flicks his beady eyes in my direction and dares me to imagine a Creator who fashioned his spindly body one day and a sturdy oak the next.
The Spirit within me begins to rise. I praise him for the beginnings and worship once again. The glory of song pushes me past the darkness.
Hope shines when we sing and feel the joy respond. Singing and dancing release positive endorphins. The very act of worship reminds our souls that hope still resides within.
The song empowers us to ‘count it all joy.’ Even in a chaotic world. Even when circumstances threaten. Just sing.
©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
The blog post above is an excerpt from Hope Shines — practical essays that search for hope.