As I was praying this morning and asking God to give me words for those who need them, this was the word I was given – Joy! How on earth you might be wondering, do we find Joy right now in the midst of tragedy, lockdown, enforced solitude, financial worry, worry for loved ones, and so on. So I went back to scripture and 2 verses stood out to me.
Nehemiah 8.10 reminds us that, ‘This day is holy. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ and
Psalm 16.11 tells us, “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy”.
Maybe in your prayers today you could take these verses and sit with them, roll them around your mind and heart, let them become part of you and ask God to speak into them for you for now. I try to make that reflection on scripture part of my routine and am amply helped by wisdom from others in the midst of reflection. Part of my morning prayers is a daily meditation which is simply a short reading from a wise person. Today’s reading was on solitude and came from Frances J. Roberts:
Drink in the silence. Seek Solitude.
Listen to the silence.
It will teach you. It will build strength…
Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime.
Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches,
bind her to your heart.
Solitude and silence are gifts from God. He hasn’t brought this season of tragedy upon us, but he will use it for the good of us all. And that may start in the solitude of life that so many in our church and community are living in right now.
One of the delights of this time which, as I am still working, has been peculiarly busy, has been hearing the stories of many people. A few people have told me of their renewed joy in God, their delight in being able to spend time with him in a new way because they have time on their hands. Or the time to engage more fully with a much loved hobby they don’t normally have time for and find that is a way to engage with God. Others have told me of boredom and worry filling this minds, hearts, bodies and strength, after having done every job around the house they can possibly think of to do. Others are of course Key Workers and are busy still working and may be busier than normal. They may be finding new Frontlines, and being able to bring the love and kindness of God to that new Frontline in this season where such things are much needed. Others have volunteered through church or council to support others and are running errands and doing practical things to care for those who can’t go out. There is a definite divide between those who can and those who can’t at the moment.
I wonder if those who can’t go out to work or volunteer to help others can use their solitude, silence and time in prayer for others who can. Can you, through your prayers, bring God’s joy and so his strength to those who can be out and about, and so are being busy, supporting, caring, making, distributing, healing? Can you make their frontline yours in prayer and through God? Those who are working or volunteering need the joy of the Lord to be their strength in this time and those who are staying at home and have solitude and silence can dedicate their prayers to bringing the joy of the Lord into being for and in them. As some pray and some work, as we each have to do, then in God’s presence we will know the fullness of joy and be strengthened for all we are asked to do by God in this season.
If you are having to stay at home you may want to link up to a friend or church member who you know is working and support them, specifically, in prayer, for what they are called to do as they support others. Let’s be the body of Christ, each bringing our own gifts and calling together with others and being united in the love and care of our community right now.