Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
In the last four weeks, we’ve explored many different facets of joy… seeking it, finding it, keeping it, and today I will close with sharing it.
Of all the various aspects of joy, sharing is by far the most important because it allows us to engage with the other three. You cannot give to another person what you do not possess, so by deduction, if you are sharing joy you’ve sought it and found it. From personal experience, I know the best way to keep joy is to share it with others.
But how do we share joy, especially now?
For the most part, my family who lives in the Midwest is insulated from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are taking precautions and do have those in our city who are sick and dying, but most days it feels like we are watching world events unfold while living in a plastic bubble.
Those who are first responders or in the medical field allow me to see more acutely the chaos that is in my city but from a distance. My heart hurts for them and the decisions they are forced to make daily to care for others while trying to keep their own families safe. Still, I am on the outside looking in at those who are boots on the ground doing the work.
I am certain in the weeks and months to follow, my job as a pastor in the mission’s field will become more stressful as people look for hope and help. At the moment, few people are reaching out. The counselor in me believes it’s because most people aren’t ready to open that Pandora’s box of emotion. However, I know for everyone it is there, lurking beneath the surface just waiting for the most inopportune moment to explode.
So, how do those of us who are finding joy right now share it with others in a way that offers hope and not just a cliché Christian sentiment?
How do we share joy in a way that lifts heavy hearts and offers strength to help those around us keep getting out of bed every day? FYI, you don’t need to be a first responder or in the medical field to need this joy. For many, including myself some days, this quarantine is making it a struggle for a lot of people to get out of bed and engage the day.
The answer to sharing joy is much simpler than you may think.
Just be you.
For those of us who follow Jesus, beyond our salvation, one of the best gifts we are given is the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These nine gifts are available to all of us and because they are the fruit, the result, the overflow of our life with Jesus, they are exceptionally infused with His power if we let him help us live them out.
I will admit, that last phrase, “…if we let him help us live them out.” is crucial. For instance, I know I’ve been given the gift of patience, but on the days I refuse to ask for help, this is a tough one for me to live out well. Does that make sense?
What do these have to do with sharing joy?
When you choose to live out any of these nine gifts, you don’t have to force yourself to share joy; it will flow out of you in the context of who God made you to be. Over and over I’ve witnessed this in the past few weeks and none of it was “Christian cliché.”
I’ve witnessed individuals offering kindness and goodness as they hand out food to families in our local school district. I’ve seen gentleness in parents homeschooling their children and I’ve witnessed the faithfulness of many of our churches continuing to provide online worship opportunities for their congregations. These things are not easy but people are sharing joy in their efforts.
In the midst of it, you may not feel like you are sharing joy but I promise you, you are doing it!
This blog has been my attempt these past few weeks to share joy by pointing you to God’s word and to His Son who is still very much in control. I hope it has brought you a level of comfort. Know that for me, thinking and praying for you as you read has brought considerable joy to my heart and helped keep me hopeful.
We are all in this together, so let’s keep sharing joy in whatever way that looks like for you and those around you who need it.
You are an agent of joy in this world. Believe it, live it, and just be you.
For Your Reflection…
Just being you is the best possible way to share joy. Who do you need to bless with the gift of yourself this week?