Daily Riches: Hanging on to Joy (Henri Nouwen, James Martin and Francis de Sales)

“Do not become upset when difficulty comes your way. Laugh in its face and know that you are in the arms of God.” Francis de Sales

“Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.” Henri Nouwen

“Remember that your environment doesn’t define you. One of the most difficult things about living in an environment (home, workplace, religious community) lacking in joy is that you may gradually assume that (a) you should not be joyful; (b) you are not naturally joyful, since you’re experiencing so little joy; or (c) the world is a joyless place. Joy-free persons sometimes seem to be joy vampires, sucking the happiness out of everyone’s life as well. In these situations, it’s important to remind yourself that (a) it’s okay to be joyful; (b) you do in fact experience joy in other areas of your life; and (c) there is joy in the world, though it may be outside of this house, workplace, religious community. It requires an inner strength similar to what’s required in being a believer among those who might scorn your beliefs. Hang on to your joy as you would hang on to your belief in God.” James Martin

“Dear brothers and sisters,
when troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
James 1:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does “joy seem hard to find?”
  • Review Martin’s list of unhelpful assumptions and necessary reminders. Which of these reminders is for you?
  • Isn’t it dreadful to think that you or I could be a “joy vampire” to others?
  • Can you “choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise?” …to “hang on to your joy” as you would hang on to your faith?

Abba, help me to bring joy to you and others.

For More: Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen


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“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”