It’s fitting for a week focused on joy to end with celebration.
Four days ago, women expressed expectations of what God would do at the retreat. Today we celebrated the ways God answered prayers for the desires of our hearts.
Debbie celebrated and affirmed younger women in the room who had answered God’s call, even when that meant foregoing comforts and conveniences to live in remote places. She offered them a seat at the table of the sisterhood of global women. “I applaud you. I was once there. I know how hard it is. Hang in there.”
Ann celebrated the transformation she felt this week. She’s leaving soon to spend a year in the States visiting supporters. “It’s stressful. I’m leaving behind work that I love. America has changed. My family has changed. I came with a lot of uncertainty, but I am leaving at peace.”
Letty celebrated a much less spiritual expression of God giving her the desires of her heart. “I went to the grocery store earlier this week,” she told a volunteer. “I had Parmesan cheese in my hand, and then changed my mind and put it back on the shelf.” It wasn’t that it was too expensive, she said. “I’ve learned to do without so many things that I decided I didn’t need it.” Imagine her surprise and delight, then, when one gift she received was pepperoni, pizza sauce, and…Parmesan cheese!
But what do you do when you don’t feel like celebrating? “It’s easy to celebrate when times are good,” said retreat speaker Linda Swanson. “The key is disciplining ourselves to celebrate when our circumstances don’t warrant it.
“Jesus knew what was coming,” Linda went on, “and yet he celebrated life with his disciples with the Last Supper. Sometimes the command to celebrate seems incongruent with what is happening in our lives. But it’s still needed, valuable, and real.”
God transformed mourning into dancing this week, weariness into rest. Even those who arrived burdened and broken left with a song in their hearts and a commitment to finding ways to celebrate God’s goodness in pursuit of true joy.