By the gift of joy, I am referring to the great surprise of levity that comes on the other side of pain. I have repeatedly experienced this surprise. It’s a big part of why I’m not an atheist. Every single time I have waited on God in prayer, pouring out my heart to Him, He comforts me and lifts me in my spirit. I believe God is eager to share the strangeness of His joy with everyone. But we have to enter the pain. There is no other route to true joy.
By “God’s gift of Himself,” I mean the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the peace of God that surpasses understanding, and the promise and assurance of seeing Christ face to face when He comes back. By far the hardest gift to accept, at least in my view, is that of taking solidarity with Jesus Christ Himself in His sufferings. Bearing up under sorrows is the only way to receive the special wisdom and power that comes to those who suffer unjustly. Few are those who dare to commune with God that way. I have found I’m not good at it myself. But God is patient and forbearing; every time someone sins against us, we are blessed with another chance to surrender our way forward into becoming the recipients of a grace that does not come unless we yield to God when we’ve been wronged.
RIP to those in the school shooting.