Five Minute Friday: JOY

This week’s topic is bittersweet. Lisa-Jo has written about her friend Sara Frankl in her intro to this week’s theme and all of us who have participated in her Friday invitation are very aware of Gitz’s wonderful contributions each week. They will not come again. As I posted earlier today when I wrote this post, Gitzen Girl’s chosen blog title is “Choosing Joy.” Each and every one of her blog posts over the last three years is a reflection of Sara’s intentional posture of doing exactly that – despite the restrictions, pain and isolation of a serious chronic disease. Over 600 folks have commented on yesterday’s post, compiled by Sara’s dear friend Shannon, where it was announced that Sara is now on hospice care and will not write again. I will try to do this topic justice tonight.

GO:


In all my years of pastoral ministry, I did both weddings and funerals; not often, as I was never ‘the’ pastor, but with some regularity. And typically, we think of weddings as occasions for laughter, high spirits and yes, joy. 

And that is usually true. But if I’m being honest, I would have to say that some of the most remarkable experiences of my life happened at funerals, not at weddings. I’ll try and ferret out why in this space, only skimming the surface in the alloted five minutes. 

Certainly funerals, graveside services and memorial services are reason for tears, for sadness, for regret and for grief. BUT, they are also amazing times of celebration, story-sharing, deep connections between people who may not have seen each other in a long while and also – an acceptable place in which to worship God through lament. And what I love about lamenting is that it is REAL. And it almost always leads to thanksgiving and to praise. 

Check  it out in the psalms. There are more laments than any other type of psalm in our psalter. And every single one of them except one (I believe it’s 88) ends with rejoicing of one kind or another. That to me, is the essence of joy: turning the corner from sorrow to praise. 

Because let’s face it, life sucks sometimes. Life sucks a lot of the time. It’s hard to be human.* People and relationships break, wear out, get sick, die. But see, here’s the thing: if you come together in community when those things happen, if you come together in worship as a community, little miracles start to sprout up. People laugh in the midst of tears. Memories come flooding in, both good and bad, but most often, the good ones win out. Grief is not an easy road – but oh, it’s so much better to walk it with others, and to walk it with God. 

Joy comes in the morning. And joy comes in the mourning, too. Oh, I want to choose joy!


STOP


*And I will add quickly here that life is also wonderful, beautiful, glorious and rich…at times. I took two minutes extra tonight to finish and added italics and photo after the buzzer.

 

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Comments

  1. I read your post over again after finishing it. And… the more I think about it, the more I agree that real joy is so full and filling that it would have to be linked in some way to plumbing the depths (sorrow, grief, lamenting… or at least the acute awareness of them).

    Thanks so much for writing this, Diana. I want to choose joy too — whether in the freshness of the morning or in the dusk of mourning. It’s been a pleasure to visit your blog.

  2. I remember the feeling after 800 friends gathered at my mom’s memorial, with my dad speaking, my brothers and sisters sharing, a beautiful photo show and amazing music . . . saying. . . I have so much joy today. Of course, the journey of grieving wasn’t always joyful . . . but I really agree with your post.

    I didn’t know the blogger you wrote about. Such sad news for those still on this side of heaven.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  3. I remember the feeling after 800 friends gathered at my mom’s memorial, with my dad speaking, my brothers and sisters sharing, a beautiful photo show and amazing music . . . saying. . . I have so much joy today. Of course, the journey of grieving wasn’t always joyful . . . but I really agree with your post.

    I didn’t know the blogger you wrote about. Such sad news for those still on this side of heaven.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  4. I can so easily relate to this – joy and grief seem to come together more easily than we realize.

  5. Oh, Wow! I’ve read your post three times. It’s full of such poignant stuff. My favorite discovery is this: “… worship God through lament. And what I love about lamenting is that it is REAL. And it almost always leads to thanksgiving and to praise.” I don’t recall ever thinking of lamenting as worship, but you can be sure I will in the future! Thanks, Diana.
    Linda

  6. You are so wise, Diana. Yes, God did intend for us to do this life together, didn’t He? And you’re right–I remember going to the funerals of my grandparents as a teenager. My dad got transferred from New Jersey to Georgia for his work, so we didn’t often see our family. But in those times together, when we gathered to weep and mourn our lost, we also laughed and remembered together. It WAS joyful.

  7. Oh, friend. I love how you focused on the joy of lament. To see the little miracles and rejoice in moments of pain and grief. To turn sorrow to praise. That’s where I want to live moment by moment.

  8. Hi Diana, a pleasure to read your post. Yes, joy comes in the morning/mourning… I have thought that very same thing in the last 3 years after the deaths of both of my parents and two siblings.But you wrote of it so gently, eloquently. By his grace alone was my big toe able to find the rock upon which I could steady myself and hold my nose above the waters of grief.
    Thank you for stopping by to visit and for your kind words … yes, I am stepping out in faith and will be at the Laity Lodge in two weeks. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

  9. This is rich with wisdom. A person can’t write like that in five minutes unless the JOY is rooted deep. In you, JOY seems rooted deep.

    You’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart.

    🙂

  10. Happiness can be the absence of pain.

    Joy comes from overcoming, or getting through, sadness, pain, obstacle.

    Not my original idea, but I believe it.

    Thanks for saying this so beautifully, Diana.

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