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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox

Advent: Joy During Hardship

Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.~ Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. ~ attributed to Martin Luther or Ben Franklin, depending on who you ask

For the one who had a notion, a notion deep inside, that it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive, I want to find one face that ain't looking through me, I want to find one place, I want to spit in the face of these badlands. ~ Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands"

Every age tends to think that their age is the worst: that nothing before was as scary, awful, or threatening.

That those nostalgic days of the past were so much better, safer, less polarizing.

For the most part, that ends up being not true. Certainly there were things in the past that are worth remembering with fondness.

But if you are African American, you know that the 1700's through 1960s were not as wonderful for your ancestors as they were for those of us who are white. 

If you were a woman living prior to 1920, it wasn't so wonderful that you couldn't vote or have the same rights as the men in your life.

If you were child during the Industrial Revolution there was a lot to complain about.

If you were poor in the Middle Ages, you were likely to die before you were 30.

And for all of us, there is much to be said for having the electricity, medical breakthroughs and indoor plumbing that were missing a century ago.

There is a lot still to be fearful of today. Much we can worry about, whether in your own life or the life of someone you love, or even the lives of people that you hear of in the news.

And yet...

Does it still make you marvel to see the blossoms on a cherry tree in the Spring?

Or a sunset over the ocean?

Do you still want to sing along with your favorite song?

Or clap your hands at your child's first steps?

Do you still get a rush of wonder when the smell fresh basil, or baked bread, or cut flowers fills a room?

Would you still seek out your favorite place to laugh and play if you knew tomorrow was your last?

There will always be something that can move the joy within you; always be something to cherish, even when life seems dark.

I pray today that whatever it is that brings you joy, finds you, no matter what else is happening in your life.

Lord, keep my eyes open to the wondrous. Let me not feel ashamed for experiencing that wonder even if times are dark. Amen.

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