Knowing Jesus brings joy in hard times

These are excellent times to prove the truth of God-inspired words of scripture. Ancient words promising that even in hard times, following Christ brings serenity, peace and joy.

I miss talking about this with my Bible study friends. Most of us were working women, grabbing a warm island of companionship in the middle of our working days, in the middle of our working week. We came hungry, not just for lunch or the company of like-minded friends. We craved a deeper experience of faith. “Just a closer walk with Thee, grant it Jesus, this my plea,” we could have sung some weeks.

Circle of Friends, we called ourselves. For years before the pandemic, we met on Wednesdays at noon around a big conference table at my workplace and someone else’s before that. I’ve seen a few of the girls here and there since COVID hit a year ago but like so many other social circles, ours burst like a lovely balloon impaled on a thorn.

Our sudden disbanding, with little contact since except the occasional text and Facebook comment, troubled me. I wondered if any lasting good came from all those years, all those lunch hours. We gabbed so much, laughed so often and took such a long time to settle that the hour we’d set apart for Bible study dwindled to far less.

“Lord, if any good seeds fell in hearts during those lunch hours, please let them grow in these hard times,” I pray. “You know those friends intimately. You died for them. You love them and you walk with them. Father, don’t let the pandemic devour any good things started around our table.”

The First5 study app we all still follow is currently following the book of Philippians, a letter authored by the Apostle Paul while imprisoned for preaching about Jesus. Writing to the church at Philippi, he noted that (in spite of his chains) if “Christ is proclaimed…I will rejoice!”

Our study writer reminded us that to those who understand God alone is the source of joy, it becomes natural to live joyfully, even when life is hard.

One of our members, reading that, wrote a comment on the group page.

 “I can still remember years ago, when the slightest thought of ever embracing joy in suffering seemed insane/unreachable/impossible! But you awesome ladies have helped me to grow from that. I’m not exactly there yet! But I no longer view it that way; more of an “I think I can (with a little help from my friends). I hope I can! It at least makes some sense to me now.”

Her words warmed my heart. I sensed God’s answer to my prayer. Yes, we’d laughed. We’d chatted. We’d puzzled over life and scripture together. We’d had a good time. But all the while, God’s ancient words were embedding themselves in eager, questing hearts. As we each continue our walk with Christ outside our circle, I know those seeds will continue to grow serenity, peace and joy.

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