Fair warning–grumpy morning people should avoid me. I have a tendency to dance while I prepare my breakfast. I crank the tunes and just start moving once I hear something I like. This morning it was this song that caught my attention and made me stop what I was doing to move to the music. The irony of this song for some will be that it is a challenge song and yet has this upbeat tune. If you listen to the words, the joy comes through and does make you want to twirl around the kitchen.
And I will say….Every valley made me lift my eyes up, every burden only made me stronger….sings Meredith Andrews in a song called Deeper. The every valley line resonated with me. I have had many people ask me about suffering this past year. I have no real insights but I do know that whatever I have gone through, I have leaned into my faith, rested in the arms of Jesus and trusted that all is well. The song frames walking through the flame by a choice–and I will say. We could say other things. We could curse God. We could rant and rave about the unfairness of it all. We might miss a whole whack of joy if we go that route. For me, for this moment, I have chosen joy. I am nowhere near rock bottom on this adventure but I hope that I may still make that choice when the finish line of this race draws nearer.
Today’s readings show how God has plans that we do not comprehend in the moment but are glorious in the long vision. Joseph is thrown into a pit, almost murdered by his own brothers, and sold into slavery in Egypt. If that were the end of the story, sorrow should rise but it is not. The landowner’s son is beaten and killed in the Gospel, a parallel story to what God’s Son is about to endure. If this too completed the tale, weeping should overcome us… but it is not. We know that God had awesome and victorious dreams and schemes to startle us into realizing just how the hopeless situation can be redeemed. This is why I can dance still every morning and make my joy go deeper and deeper. My story is not yet done. Death has no victory over me and until I die, I choose to live with joy.
What makes you dance?
What valley is making you lift your eyes up?
Mountaintop or valley,
Rock bottom or pinnacle,
My joy will run deep
because You are there.
Praise be to your Holy Name.