Hopeful Joy! by Rev. Laura Glover

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

This month we are going to celebrate “Joyful June!” My prayer this Pentecost was for the Holy
Spirit to reinvigorate my joy in life. I invite you to join me in cultivating joy because the world needs more
joy! All I have to do is listen to the first five minutes of the news, and I am reminded of that song from
Hee Haw: “gloom, despair, and agony of me!” As easy as it is to be discouraged by the world, it is even
easier to look away from the chaos and choose instead to chase after comfort and security. But as Christians, we are called to look clearly at the world in all its brokenness, not with despair, but with hopeful joy.

If we want to know and share real joy, then we begin by grounding ourselves in the hope we have
through Jesus Christ. Whether on a global level or a personal level, God’s
promise and plan for the world is for redemption and renewal, and God
keeps God’s promises. The vehicle for God’s promised redemption and renewal is Jesus the Christ. He is the source of our hope. He has redeemed
our sin and brokenness – no matter how great the sin or devastating the brokenness. He has defeated suffering and death, and He will come again to
usher in the Kingdom of God in all fullness. To know Christ is to know hope,
and there is a strong relationship between hope and joy. An unknown author
wrote, “Hope is the soil in which joy is rooted – the ground where joy grows.”

Hopeful joy is much more than just thinking happy thoughts or trying to be more positive. To live in
hopeful joy means that whenever we see or hear or feel brokenness, we choose to look at it clearly and
think about how we hope that situation can be transformed. What do we hope for our nation and for the
world? What do we hope for the planet and creation? What do we hope for the Church? What do we
hope for ourselves and our loved ones? To live in hopeful joy is to get specific and to actively pray for
those hopes to be fulfilled.

And then be ready to get to work. No action is either too small or too big because little things can
become big things when undertaken with hopeful joy. Prof. Sigmon Thornburgh shares the story of
“creative activist” Pedro Reyes in Culiacan, Mexico. Culiacan is the city with the highest rate of gun
deaths in a country ravaged by gun violence. Reyes collected 1,527 guns for the project Palas por Pistolas and melted those guns down into 1,527 shovel heads. Those 1,527 shovels were then used to plant
1,527 trees in the city. That is the power of hopeful joy. It is the power to transform not only our perspectives but also to transform the world. That brings me great joy!