This year has been like few others and certainly like no others in recent memory. The end of the year tends to be a time of reflection, contemplation, and planning for future change. As we reflect on things that have been so far out of the norm our challenge is to hold joy in one hand and pain or heartbreak, in another. Can we hold both things? Can we acknowledge that it has been a hard year while still having joy?
One of the hardest things to do is having a deep abiding joy that is independent of what is happening in your life. We tend to measure our mood, how we’re doing and how happy we feel based on how our life circumstances are. We look around and the things, people, and accomplishments arrayed before us to measure our inside joy. The challenge we have set before us now is to look around at what’s been arrayed and have joy anyway.
Most people looking at their 2020 at a minimum experienced fear, anxiety, disappointment, and isolation. Some people have seen major loss, the ends of dreams and even the ends of lives of family or friends. No matter where your 2020 fell on the scale can you have joy anyway? Can we, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2 NIV. This is not an easy thing: to be full of joy when your heart is full of pain.
Part of holding joy with one hand and pain in another is being able to release fear. Fear interrupts the whole process. We only have two hands, if one is full with fear, and the other is full with pain there is no room for joy. Plenty of us are great at holding fear with one hand, or with both hands. In life there will be plenty of pain, we need to honor the painful parts of life by respecting this pain, working through it and healing, and growing from it. However, if we reserve one hand for pain and one for fear we short circuit our life and our healing. Jesus tell us we will have trouble, trial, and difficulty. Even still, we can be encouraged, have good cheer, or take heart (depending on the translation) because all our current difficulty has been overcome. Do we have enough trust to release the fear we hold in one hand so that joy may occupy the other?
Joy is more than being in a good mood, having a great day or feeling strong inside. Joy is being able to appreciate and see that there is good present even when most things look bad. Joy is knowing no matter how dark the room is, light will overcome any dark. Joy is feeling like a mess, miserable and unhappy and still knowing you are deeply loved, treasured, and wanted. Joy matters, having joy even when things are hard makes you able to face your pain unafraid, see a hope for your future, and understand that no matter how hard today has been, it was overcome for your good.