Dancing in the Dark
For the last couple of weeks, in the 11:00 a.m. service here at Trinity, we’ve sung a song called “Joy of the Lord.” It’s written by a group called Rend Collective. From the title, you would think it would be a song full of lyrics about happy things and happy times. But it’s just the opposite. This song is about dark days, hardship, tears and doubt - and the joy we can still have in the Lord despite these trials. It starts, “Though the tears may fall, my song will rise to You. Though my heart may fail, my song will rise to you. While there’s breath in my lungs, I will praise You, Lord.” In the second verse, it sings, “When I cannot see You with my eyes, let faith arise to You. When I cannot feel Your hand in mine, let faith arise to You. God of mercy and love, I will praise You, Lord.” The idea here is that, no matter the circumstance, we can praise the Lord. He is a good God, all the time. In our dark days, we can remember what He has done when it has felt “light.” Then the chorus comes in, declaring, “The joy of the Lord is my strength. In the darkness I’ll dance, in the shadows I’ll sing. The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah tells the Israelites to “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” They had just finished a full day of worshiping God and listening to the Word of God being read. Earlier in the chapter it indicates that when the people had heard the Law of God, and understood it, they had wept. I’m not sure if they were crying because their hearts were broken that they had not been following God’s law, or for another reason. But I do know whatever the reason, Nehemiah told them not to grieve, because the joy of the Lord was their strength. We all come before the Lord sinful and broken. Life is often hard and hurtful. There is a time for grieving and sadness. But we have hope, and we can be strong in all circumstances because of the joy found in the Lord. His love for us, and His gift of salvation, is not dependent on anything we have done (or haven’t done). He is solid, and secure, and unchanging. Always loving, always forgiving. We simply accept this love and this gift and let Him provide the strength. When we come together as a church, as a group of believers, we don’t have to put on the mask of happiness or perfectness. We know each others’ hurts and trials. We know we’re all sinful and undeserving of God’s blessing. And we can encourage one another in the hope we hold on to - Jesus, so that even in the dark, we can dance.