But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.
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When reading scripture, I was taught to pay attention to "so that." What comes after "so that" most often reveal the heart and the purpose the actions taking place. Time and again I am learning that joy can be discovered flourishing in the midst of deep struggle. This joy is not naive or in denial but blissfully defiant and radiant. It is an energy source that compels life to slough off the shroud and embraces those who are covered in the mire of the circumstances. I have most often tried to mine joy by comparing my circumstances to someone in a much more dire condition. But that only serves to separate me from them. Those in those dire conditions are the ones most likely to radiate their joy without finding someone yet lower. When Jesus spoke these words, he was on the way to his own death and here he is speaking of joy. I have no system in which I can produce, manufacture, conjure up joy. It just happens. The clink of a glass. The lyrics of a song. The sound of child play. The taste of cookie dough. A text message that pokes us with the effervescent spark of traveling companions. Joy just appears like a stream of bubbles in a champagne flute and the joy is made complete when it splashes out of us for others.
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Lord, May we this day risk joy. Amen.