Looking for joy when gray abounds

I penned the following thoughts between December 25, 2016 and January 1, 2017. I wanted to make it clear that I did it during a time of the year when these words have stark significance.

I’m a member of several social media groups. Cyber space is a wonderful place to connect with people from all around the planet. One particular group that brings me touching social interaction consists of members who have various chronic illnesses. The people who occupy this space are forthcoming in sharing their experiences brought on by pain and suffering. This sharing brings relief to many who’ve found a place to converse with others experiencing similar trials. Oftentimes, a testimony or a devotional penned by someone provides powerful encouragement to others who might be hopeful for an appropriate word from some quarter.

This time of year, presents many dark corners in the fabric of life for several folks. Depression and the unfortunate byproduct, suicide, are not uncommon for a time when holiday cheer is pedaled as the norm by commercialism everywhere. I’ve been reading some of the postings contributed, by several members, to the social media group to which I referred above. Some of these postings tell the story of somber attitudes attributable to agonizing pain, with no end in sight; death of friends and loved ones, resulting from prolonged illness, and an overall challenge to muster up joy during gray.

One of the hallmarks of strong faith in God is the ability to be able to find joy amid whatever the prevailing circumstances may be. The older I get the more I’m convinced that that is one of the primary principles of faith many Christians just don’t get. I seem to be continually presented with some professed believer in Christ who goes on about what they would do if: (if they had x amount of money, if they didn’t have to deal with this person, if things on their job would be different…). As I listen to them talk, I can see the gray they’re describing in their lives. The gray they present is no different than the same or similar hue of circumstances we all see in our own lives. Why is it that folks like this testify profusely about the faith they have in Christ, yet act as though Christ has no control of conditions that present obstacles in their life’s path?

Let me be clear. I’m not one of the heroes of faith described in the Bible (Hebrews Chapter 11). I have my ups and down. During some seasons, the downs seem to have me in their cross hairs daily; however, I try my best to demonstrate the attitude my Lord and Savior wants me to exhibit to the world. I emphasize, “I try.” It’s a constant daily effort. As with doctors and lawyers, who practice their craft, I practice, practice, practice. The effort expended is to make the practice of finding joy during gray a life style. Entrenched life-style habits become as involuntary as breathing over time.

When all is said, we are only human. Sometime it’s next to impossible to find joy, because the gray has the viscosity of sorghum molasses on a cold winter’s morning. But that’s alright. Our faith, no matter who we are, if plotted out graphically would be portrayed by graphic line that’s up and down. Some of us have a line that is more jagged than others. Given that truism, it’s important that our faith shows a continually line of rising, getting stronger, as we make our path through this life, riddled with pockets of gray.

I once read somewhere that the late Alex Haley, author of Roots, was known to say that we should all look for the good and praise it. My prayer to God is that He will bless me during each day I have left with the attitude that allows me to continuing looking for joy among the gray. One thing is for certain, the gray will come. I’m charged with ushering in the joy.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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