My alarm went off at 3:00am. My friend and I slowly climbed out from under piles of blankets and pulled on coats, scarves, and extra socks. Two of my sisters and another friend met us in the kitchen, and we poured ourselves mugs of coffee and grabbed a pile of blankets.
It was so dark as we drove down that country road. After about ten minutes, we arrived at a cow pasture, where we met up with another friend (Southern small-town living, right there). Everything smelled like wild onions as we spread blankets on the ground and tried to keep our teeth from chattering.
The sky was clear and thousands of stars spread out over us. We lay on a blanket like a bunch of burritos and had coffee and ate Christmas cookies and temporarily lost feeling in our feet.
Then it happened. One meteor cut through the dark and raced across the sky. Then another one. And another one. And another.
We stayed out there in that cow pasture until we couldn’t feel our toes anymore, then we climbed back into the car and went home for a few more hours of sleep.
That was four years ago, but I still remember it. I loved that winter night, even though it was like eighteen degrees outside.
It would’ve been so easy to grow impatient while we waited for the meteor shower to start. We could’ve decided it was way too cold and dark and not worth the wait.
But we stayed. Why? We trusted something was coming. But more than that, we somehow knew we were in the middle of a memory we’d remember for a long time.
See, there was joy in that dark moment of waiting. Was it cold? Yes. Did we like the thought that we might have spread our blankets over cow patties? No.
But there was friendship and adventure and a million stars above us in a massive sky that made us feel small and loved by God at the same time.
I felt so much joy that night. No, I hadn’t seen what I was waiting for yet, but I was so aware of everything around me. My heart was filled with thanks for that moment, even though it was dark and cold.
Psalm 16:11 says:
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
No matter how dark and cold your situation is, God is there. And because of that, you can have joy.
Life can be very hard. People can break our hearts and our circumstances can seem like they’ll never get better. It seems crazy to think any joy could be in the middle of all of that.
But here’s the key: the joy doesn’t come from our situations, which are always changing. The joy comes from God, who never changes. The joy comes from knowing He is with you and He is for you and He loves you. Right where you are. Even when life is hard, He’s there. And He’s scattered pieces of His grace even in the middle of your most uncertain circumstances, whether it’s friendship in the middle of a freezing Winter’s night, or peace in the middle of a struggle.
Yes, there is joy in looking forward to Him filling His promises, but there’s also joy right here, right now. In each moment.
God, open our eyes to see it.
Let’s Talk: When have you experienced God’s joy in the middle of tough times?