Pops of Joy

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. (Philippians 1:3-7)

Every once in a while, God brings someone into our lives who profoundly impacts our faith. A simple man in his 90s taught me some profound life lessons about the power of joy in life. I met Pops when he was living in an old, run down, cockroach-infested six-story rooming house. As a part of one of my classes in college, I was challenged to volunteer with some of the city’s most isolated and vulnerable senior citizens. The first day I ventured into his neighborhood, I thought about turning back because I had to walk over a few homeless men passed out on the doorstep to his building. When I finally made it upstairs to meet him, I discovered a soul friend, one who began to teach me visit by visit about contentment and joy in the midst of trying circumstances. He and my grandmother were both 92 and widowed – we joked that there was still time for a little romance for the two of them.

Pops managed to laugh at anything, even though his life had been far from easy. He had lost his job selling cigars at Walgreens during the depression. He and his wife, Olive, had lost two children who died in infancy. He claimed that the two of them lived on love and the Lord when things got scarce. I learned more from him than he ever knew. I was a privileged young college student at a private university who listened to an old blind man’s stories and saw in him contentment, joy, and peace. He used to say to me, “Honey, there’s no sense fretting over everything. When you place your life in the Lord’s hands, everything will be all right, no matter what. I promise you.” He was living breathing proof of a trust that radiates genuine joy. A great philosopher once said: “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” And blessed are we when we meet someone who shows us the way. This week let God surprise you with joy!

Prayer Focus: For all those who are poor in spirit

Prayer: O God of this day and all moments in time, we surrender our swirling thoughts to you. When spontaneous laughter bubbles up, we see your hand and give thanks. When an unexpected kindness breaks into our emptiness, your goodness takes us by surprise. Even in the deepest challenges of life, we can look back and can see your presence giving strength and comfort. Give us the eyes to see joy in the moments of our days, that we might turn to you, the source of all joy and remember and give thanks. In the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.