Words of Hope: Sharing Joy
The scripture passages I read this morning had a verse that has been reverberating in my mind. “When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.”
I love this image. Sharing joy with those in our community, our beloved friends and neighbors who see and encounter our lives. They know our struggles and our deepest hopes. I picture my friend, the one I dearly loved who lost her baby. The loss was her sorrow, but we who love her, shared it. It woke us up at night, it put our stomach in knots, it brought us many tears and heartache. We shared her sorrow.
And we prayed for her. Day and night, asking God to give her a child. When the news came, there was total rejoicing, celebrating, and absolute adoration for God’s blessing. The picture of her son is now on my refrigerator. It has hung there for many months now, but it never stops surprising me with joy. This gift of overflowing abundant mercy of God. I share this gratitude with my friend.
This is the beloved community, sacred spaces where we can share our deepest struggles. We can cry together, we can be vulnerable, honest, and living with full authenticity. Many of our churches have become spaces of anonymity and consumption. There is no real sorrow or real joy because we don’t have proximity, transparency, or time.
Jesus sat in the dirt, at the table, He walked long distances, He lived shoulder to shoulder with people. He shared His burdens with His disciples, He cried, He got angry. He told us if we share in His suffering, we will be overjoyed in His glory.
The friends and neighbors of Elizabeth could share deeply in her joy because they had shared deeply in her suffering. This is the way of love.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – Romans 12:9-15