“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV)
These verses have taken on a whole new meaning in light of our country’s experiences over the past year. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, which has been especially bad in the United States. We’ve decried police violence against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and sought to change the policies that perpetuate white supremacy.
Life as we know it has seen a great upheaval. People have lost jobs and been out of work for months. Many have lost friends or family to the coronavirus or to physical violence. There’s been much to lament and grieve. How can we possibly find reasons to give thanks, much less rejoice, amid so much pain and chaos? We definitely have cause to pray continuously.
I find myself caught in the tension of the now and the not yet. I’m heartened that so many people are choosing to fight for justice and equality among all people, but it hurts to see how far we are from actually achieving that goal. Yes, people are outraged at injustice, at the higher rates of death for BIPOC from the coronavirus, maternal mortality, and police violence, but it hasn’t translated into greater accountability or action items to reduce these statistics. While it’s important that these incidents come to light in society as a whole, it’s also disheartening to see just how oppressed and marginalized BIPOC are in a country that touts liberty and justice for all.
It seems flippant to try to find something to be joyful about when so many people are hurting. Where’s the joy in millions of people being out of work, hundreds of thousands of people dying from the coronavirus, and people being murdered while their assailants remain free?
But what if we’re meant to experience joy even in the midst of such suffering?
Read the rest over at The Glorious Table.