What is this thing called joy? God gives tastes of joy to all the world...gentle, glorious sunrises and exuberant orange and purple sunsets, the majesty of mountains and the power of deserts, the inexpressible joy of a new birthed baby, the first warm ripe tomato of summer and the first sweet crisp apple of autumn, oceans, waterfalls and misty lakes, big billowy clouds, soft summer rains, and whispers of snowflakes, those moments when an awareness of the blessings of health and family and honest work give us pause in hectic days. I believe these moments are sent to us so that when we encounter God, we have at least a small frame of reference for recognizing joy when we meet it in its highest form.
So if all of us have opportunities to know joy, then why bother to develop a relationship with God? It is because the nature of joy changes for those who trust God. It comes to include the joy of knowing your child will never face adversity without God being there to help. It includes the tender joy of a beloved parent passing over, confident that God awaits. It is the joy of knowing that, even in the face of a terrifying medical diagnosis, you will not be alone for one moment on the journey. It is the joy of knowing that even a child with the most serious of handicaps can be appreciated for the powerful gifts of love they bring to the family who embraces them. It is this truth: no matter what your child faces in prison and facing the terrible reality of all you cannot do for him from afar, is the sure knowledge that God is not far from them or indifferent to them or impotent before the challenges they face.
And, at least in my experience, the deeper we allow ourselves to know God, the more present is this joy from God even in the most challenging times.
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."-Psalm 30:5