Discover more from Finding Words in Hard Times - with Jon Swanson
035 Shield the joyous.
Welcome back (or welcome)!
This newsletter is called “Finding word in hard times.” I give you stories and tools to help you be more comfortable as you help others in hard times.
But here’s the thing.
Since sometime in 2020, every night as I fall asleep, I start talking to God with a prayer that’s old, that’s part of an evening prayer service.
It starts, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.” And then it walks through other requests for God’s presence and protection and provision.
I don’t always stay awake all the way to the end.
But when I do, the last request is this: “shield the joyous.”
I’m not great at doing this myself.
As Tish Harrison Warren writes about this part of the prayer,
To risk joy requires hope. And hope is the opposite of anxiety. I am habitually anxious. I catastrophize. I plan for the worst. This habit leads me to, as they say in the South, “borrow trouble.” Horrors could happen, so I start mourning them ahead of time—it’s never too early to get a jump on misery.
To hope is to “borrow grace.” It is not naïve optimism. Hope admits the truth of our vulnerability. It does not trust God to keep bad things from happening. But it assumes that redemption, beauty, and goodness will be there for us, whatever lies ahead. (152)
I am not only habitually anxious, I’ve become professionally anxious, knowing that the worst will happen each day at our hospital. The worst for those involved, at least. And, as we attend to the stream of accounts of the world around us, news is constantly breaking of what could happen.
And yet. people smile. The worst is not happening at this moment for many people. We can hold space for those who just had their last moment with a loved one at the same time people are having their first moments with loved ones.
Perhaps we can, rather than saying, “just wait for what could happen,” try saying, “treasure what is happening.”
Perhaps we can ask God to shield the joyous this weekend.
Thanks for stopping by.
Tish Harrison Warren’s book is Prayer in the Night: For those who work or watch or week.