I remember the nervousness like it was yesterday. I was walking down the hall to math class. This, however, was no ordinary walk.
This time, my dad walked with me. My teacher waited for me, and the subject was ME. More specifically, grade cards had just come out, and my six-week average for Algebra 2 was a solid 6.
You read that right, a 6—like 6 out of 100. I believe you get a 30 for just signing your name.
I hated math, and math hated me. I sat in class lost, confused, and angry. My attitude was awful, and my teacher often felt the brunt of my frustration.
My dad knew my grade, and he was disappointed, to say the least. Nevertheless, I was not ready for the look of disappointment that came over his face as my teacher recounted (and recounted accurately) how I acted in class. There was a flash of fury in his eyes, as she recounted moments of blatant disrespect.
When we got home that day, my parents made a few things clear. One, even though I could not pass the class and would have to re-take it, I would finish strong. Two, I would stay after school with my teacher twice a week, and learn everything I could. Those two things were important, but it was the third that they stressed the most. I would do these things with a good attitude because, as far as my parents were concerned, how I did what I did mattered more than the grade.
I have thought about that a lot lately because we are dealing with tough times. Yet, the lesson stands. It is not enough to just finish because it also matters how we finish. We should finish with a resolute and defiant joy. We should finish with the words of 2 Corinthians 4:6-8:
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.
Just a few chapters over he says he is also, “Sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”
And there it is! That is what I want, a defiant joy.
COVID-19 has taken a lot from us. It has taken our seniors May graduation. It has highjacked our school year. It has taken some of our jobs. It has taken vacation plans and retirement accounts. It has taken so much, however, it will NOY take our joy!
It will not take our joy because our joy is not rooted in those things. Their loss hurts and leaves us sorrowful, but with resolute defiance, we say, “You cannot have our joy.”
For a Christian, our joy is rooted in a blood-spattered cross. Our joy is rooted in an empty tomb. Our joy resides with our ascended king who rules the world. Even if we die, our joy does not die. For when the Lion of the Tribe of Judah roars, we will rise.
Thus, we look COVID 19 in the face feeling sorrowful for our losses but joy in our crosses. We will emerge bruised, but not beaten. We will be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
We will come through it with defiant joy!