We live in a world in which joy seems hard to find. Faced with pain, loss, or even genocide, where can we find […]
Published on: 05-31-2019
We live in a world in which joy seems hard to find. Faced with pain, loss, or even genocide, where can we find joy? Israel experienced joy at their deliverance by the mighty hand of God after He had brought them out of Egypt. Exodus 18:9-11 describes joy in Jethro’s (Moses’ father-in-law) heart when he saw the Israelites saved from the hand of the Egyptians.
In a moment of extreme suffering, having just experienced Jerusalem’s fall to the Babylonians, the prophet Jeremiah spoke of a time Israel “shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. . . . For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn” (Jer. 31:9). That feels like something that happened to me 25 years ago.
I lived in exile for almost 35 years. During that time I experienced torture, including being put in front of a firing squad where the shooters missed their target. I have now been living in my native country for 25 years, and my heart is filled with joy.
Before the European colonizers came to Rwanda, the joy of my country came from being called “the people of the king.” Today Rwandans experience joy because they have determined that they are all one. Ndi Umunyarwanda means “I am Rwandan” and reflects our efforts to build a new national identity based on trust and dignity.
We Christians have an even better reason to experience joy, for God cares for us no matter what experience we are going through. “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope” (Lam. 3:21) is the best proof of that.