Life’s Journey

A lot of Christians say that Christians should always be joyful, and I also believe that Christians experience increasing joy. However, I think some believe “joy” means “paint an artificial smile on my face and pretend everything is ok, even though my life is falling apart and my heart is breaking.” I don’t think it means this, and neither do I think it’s always a bouncy, trouncy, Tigger type of joy. I think there are times of bright and dancing joy, but I think it’s usually more of an authentic deepness, a settled foundation, so that even when life is difficult and our hearts are breaking, there’s a light in the darkness, hope in despair, a knowing that we are always loved and never abandoned by God sort of joy. It’s like a line in a children’s song: “Real joy is mine, even if the teardrops start.”

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Because and Even Though

About ten years ago or so, a 40-something year old man in our church got cancer. He had wife who loved him and two children. SS was well-liked in the church. Many people desperately prayed for his healing–individually and in Sunday school classes, small groups, prayer meetings, and 24-hour prayer vigils were held for him. Despite all this prayer, the cancer continued to ravage this him. One guy, a close friend of this SS, used to visit Sunday school classes and passionately plead with people to pray for him. He declared that SS wasn’t healed because people didn’t have enough faith. He said that the prayer, “God’s will be done” was a cop-out, prayed by people with weak faith. (Please don’t judge this man too harshly, he was feeling grief over his friend’s illness, and struggling with his own faith.) In just a few months, SS succumbed to his illness and died.

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Spiritual Definitions

I have, over the last several years, begun defining spiritual words to myself in a way I could understand–words such as love, faith, humility, forgiveness, reconciliation. These words already have definitions, of course–but the definitions often were theological or theoretical and not PRACTICAL. I wanted a everyday, working definition. I figured that if I didn’t understand them in a practical, every day way, how could I ever hope to LIVE them?