Joy to the World, It Will Find You

Christmas PostcardIt’s just the longest weekend ever. In these words from the innocent perspective of a little girl, 2020 doesn’t seem so bad. She is simply happy because  her family now has an “amazing kitty” who makes her forget COVID exists. Indeed, along with much suffering, 2020 has brought some joy to the world.

Sorrow and Joy Side by Side

Writing for The Conversation, theologian Angela Gorrell explains that sorrow and joy can come closely together:

“I want to be clear: Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness tends to be the pleasurable feeling we get from having the sense that life is going well.

“Joy, on the other hand, has a mysterious capacity to be felt alongside sorrow and even – sometimes, most especially – in the midst of suffering. This is because joy is what we feel deep in our bones when we realize and feel connected to others – and to what is genuinely good, beautiful and meaningful – which is possible even in pain. Whereas happiness is generally the effect of evaluating our circumstances and being satisfied with our lives, joy does not depend on good circumstances.”

Joy Finds You in Surprising Places

So many people have lost so much this year. This pandemic has touched everyone in ways big and small. We have friends who have suffered grievous losses – loved ones, livelihoods, and personal health. It is no small thing to lose physical closeness or routines that define your life’s work.

But we have found new and closer friendships, too. We have found new routines to make ourselves more physically active and less stressed than before the pandemic. This year, we’ve walked more than 2,000 miles – easily 50 percent more than prior years. Our blood pressure is down. We are closer than ever to some of our loved ones. We find joy in a stronger public resolve to end the injustice of racism.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked,” wrote Kahlil Gibran. Life goes on – with joy and sorrow side by side throughout this world. We pray that you will savor the joy that finds you in this holiday.

Christmas Postcard, illustration by Raphael Kirchner / WikiArt

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December 25, 2020

2 Responses to “Joy to the World, It Will Find You”

  1. December 25, 2020 at 10:31 pm, Allen Browne said:


    Merry Christmas!!


  2. December 26, 2020 at 4:16 am, Mary-Jo said:

    Wonderful, important reflections here, Ted, thank you! Henri Nouwen speaks of how helpful it is for us to seek the blessings that come through our brokenness and how often the greatest joys in life come from our deepest sufferings. May you and yours and all we work for enjoy continued blessings and wishing you great health and success through Christmastide and in 2021!

    “When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become.” Henri Nouwen