Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finding Joy

Events of Friday challenge my heart as I sit to write this week's Advent devotional. The third week in Advent focuses on joy, yet every time my mind goes back to Friday's horror, tears fall. Looking for joy seems indecent and disrespectful.

The best I could do on Friday was to look for love, find some way to respond in love.

Joy? That's so much harder to find when you're crying out in grief.

In church today, after lighting a candle of remembrance for those killed in Newtown, our pastor preached a sermon that helped me find a little balance, a little light in the darkness. Not a lot, but a little.

And isn't that how healing works? A little at a time as our hearts and heads process tragedy, whether that tragedy is public or private. We get a little better, then get worse, then get better, and repeat in a process of two steps forward, one step back.

We have to trust the process of healing.

The Bible shows us story after story of people's wickedness and God's ability to turn that wickedness to good. The ultimate story to follow that pattern is Jesus' death on the cross. God turned that horror into eternal salvation for all who want it.

I am grateful for that.

If we can trust that God is with us, is with those families who lost loved ones and those families whose loved ones survived, is with all the first responders and investigators and coroners and psychologists, we can move forward--slowly, perhaps glacially, and with occasional steps backward--in hope and love and gratitude.


All plentiful evidence to the contrary, there is so much to be grateful for right now, but mostly I'm grateful for God's light that shines in all dark places. He calls us to be His light in the world, to share it in those dark places whenever we can.

On Christmas Eve, many of us will light candles in church and sing Silent Night. If  you're not in church, you might take an opportunity to light a candle privately, in gratitude for God's goodness. As we heal, let's allow that symbolic act to lift us to the joy that comes from knowing that God takes all things...a small and humble baby born lowly, or a horrible tragedy perpetrated by evil...and turns them to His great good.

Joy comes from gratitude, from knowing that we get to be a part of that great good. God invites us to be a part of it.

Light your candle.

Share its light.

You'll find joy.


  1. The process of healing. It is glacial, and every time we go through these kinds of horrific events it refreshes our memory of all the previous ones. BUT, there is joy and love and goodness in the world, seeping into the darkness, lighting the way for better things.

  2. If you have Hope you can find Joy! It is the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth that keeps evil at bay for the most part! If God is not part of your life you try to find worth by acceptance from the world and if the world/people does not give it we are sad individuals forgetting that we are worth so much that Jesus Christ died for us and that is so much more than the world/people can or will ever give for us. Where you find your worth is directly linked to your joy, love, peace, hope . . .
    Thanks for sharing your encouraging words!

  3. thank you for the reminder to not only light my candle but to keep it lit by BEING the candle, the light in the darkness, the reflection of the ONE Who is the Light of the World, shining for all to see, bringing hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, relief to the burdened, joy to the heavy-hearted, belonging and a home to those who are lost.
    May His Name be Praised..Mt 5:16
    patti moffett


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