Finding Joy When Your Heart is Heavy

Gazing at my son walking away with one crutch under his arm, my heart felt heavy.

He was happy to be with his teammates, even though he would not be able to play this season.

Truthfully, his attitude is much better than mine some days.

I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, thinking about the year ahead.

His senior year.

Between the surgery and COVID, we both knew this year would look different.

And even though my words told him we would make the best of this crazy year, I have to confess my heart is not always there.

Today was one of those days.

So after an iced coffee and a few more tears, I decided to shift my focus to my shopping list.

New shorts for school, a birthday present and a baby shower gift.

I tackled the list in just that order and finally found myself in the baby section.

And then I heard it.

The sound was unmistakable.

One I had not heard in awhile.

It was the sound of sheer joy.

While browsing through the baby section, I could not help but overhear a man on the phone with his wife.

Quickly it became apparent that he was shopping for his infant son.

He picked up outfits, describing each one in detail.

It was as if nothing else mattered.

His excitement was so genuine.

It was almost childlike.

Like he was seeing the world in a whole new way.

And while he looked at onesies and sleepers, I wondered if he even knew how much I needed to hear that sound.

How much we all do.

A reminder of all that is good in the world.

The presence of joy, even when our hearts are heavy.

I stood there with my 25% off coupon in my hands and my heart in my throat.

The days of buying baby clothes had long passed for me, except for when I was in search of a gift.

But this was a gift I was not expecting, one that changed my outlook on the rest of the day.

As I approached the young father, I told him I could not help but notice his excitement.

Beaming with pride, he quickly shared that his first son had just been born 3 weeks before.

Sheer joy.

I told him to enjoy every moment and handed him my coupon.

Be blessed, I told him.

In my heart, I knew he had already blessed me.

God knew the heaviness on my heart.

He knows what is on your heart, too.

“You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.

 You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

 You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

 Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.”  Psalms 139:1-4 NIV

God knew I needed encouragement in that moment.

A reminder of all that is good in the world.

A reminder that there is joy, even when my heart is heavy.

God challenges us to encourage each other in different ways.

Consider this scripture from the Hebrews:

“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” 

Hebrews 10:22-25 MSG

This translation really challenged me to think about how I can be inventive in my ways of encouraging those around me.

That is what we are called to do.

And encouraging someone else is one way we can find joy, even when our own hearts may be heavy.

How will you be inventive today?

A sticky note on a lunch box, a cup of coffee, an unexpected visit?

A 25% off coupon to a stranger?

The possibilities are endless.

Because we serve a God of endless possibilities.

Friends, my prayer is that His promises keep you going in the days ahead and that you are able to find joy, even when your hearts are heavy.