There are so many words people are using to describe the state of the world amid the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak. We hear it’s unprecedented. We hear it’s serious. We hear it can take lives.
Most of the U.S. is under some kind of orders involving minimizing contact in public and doing what we can do to flatten the curve.
We can be anxious during this time. We can worry about ourselves and others. We might be grieving the loss of loved ones, jobs, school and the simple freedoms we enjoyed just a month ago.
So, in this uncertain time, is it possible that we can still find joy?
To get to that answer, let’s read some words from the Book of James:
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.James 1:2-5 (CEB)
There are some moments in Scripture that can absolutely leave you scratching your head. Does James seriously think that I’m going to be joyful when I’m going through the tough moments in life? Are we supposed to be joyful when the world is in a state of fear?
Maybe you get where I’m coming from on this. Joy is often the last thing that I think of or feel in the moments of stress, the times of struggle, in the hours of pain, in dealing with fears and questions and doubts.
Yet, that’s where this letter goes: joy. Why? Because it’s a chain reaction. View it as joy because this trial can test your faith and show you just how much you need God. And when you realize that about your faith, your faith can mature and grow.
But still, joy? Joy when someone is stabbing you in the back? Joy when people are talking about you? Joy when you hear a rumor or half-truth? Joy?
Maybe what James is ultimately pointing us to is that we can reach a place in our faith when we see past the emotions and situations that we encounter and we can see that God is still present. It’s a place on the other side of pain and doubt. It’s the place where we know that no matter what, God is there.
Maybe that’s what can lead us to be able to ask God without doubt. Why? Because we’ve had the chance to see God at work in our trials. And because we’ve seen God there, we know that he’s going to be there in the future and that God’s never going to leave.
Maybe that’s what I find myself coming back to. God is here, God is there. God is always. Even in the trials.
God is with you as you shelter in place. God is with you when you wait for test results. God is with you when you are struggling to make ends meet after the sudden job loss. God is with you no matter what.
And for some reason, that does start to make me feel joy.
Almighty and loving God, thank you for your presence with us in the toughest moments of life. God, thank you for being with us during this pandemic. God, you are with us in the lowest moments just as you are with us in happiest of times. Help us, God, to find the joy in knowing you will not leave even in the toughest of moments we experience. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.