About a year ago, Sofia started attending our church. Sofia has a very troubled life. Her husband is an alcoholic and drinks every bit of money he makes. Sofia works hard at her job to keep the bills paid and food on the table. She lives with her husband and three teenage children in a small, one-bedroom apartment. She has been directly affected (in her immediate family) by teenage pregnancy, abortion, abuse, drunkenness, drugs, and suicide.
When Sofia first started coming to church, she was very unhappy. She never smiled and would sit in her chair with her head down, and not talk to anyone. She has spent many hours in Chris’s office with Chris and I sobbing about her life. Several weeks after she had started coming to church, we began to notice a change in Sofia. No longer would she enter church quietly and sit dejected and depressed in her chair, but she would smile upon being greeted and she would stay around to fellowship after the service.
“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Now she enters church with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. She greets everyone with a smile and enjoys singing the hymns during church. Did her circumstances change? NO! However, Sofia has found the Joy of the LORD! Sofia told us that she can’t believe the peace in her heart since she “met God’s Son.” Her circumstances are still the same. She still works hard cleaning to provide for her family. Her husband still drinks. Her daughter is still in an abusive relationship, etc… Her life is still heartbreaking. She still has times where she is crying in Chris’s office, but instead of despair over her life, she is now praying for the rest of her family to find the Lord as she has. No longer do we see a sad, dejected woman; instead we see a joyful, hopeful Christian!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…” (Galatians 5:22)
Sofia has been a lesson to me. I can’t imagine living the life she lives, and yet the Joy of the Lord shines through her. Despite her circumstances, she is Joyful. Happiness is a reflection of your circumstances, while Joy is a reflection of your heart. How do we who have the Truth portray ourselves and our Savior to those around us? When people look upon our countenance, what do they see? Do they see an expression based on our circumstances, or do they see the Joy of the Lord?
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)
*(not her real name)