Years ago, in an attempt to show his momentary anger with me, my husband said, “You think you can turn everything into a party!” 

My response was “thank you.”  In fact, I really believe that in every time of sorrow and grief, there is a crashing need for humor and fun.  The seriousness of life must be balanced with joy and delight.  Times of celebration are commanded by God in the Old Testament.  Of course, we are told to repent and understand the seriousness of our wayward nature.  However, times of feasting and parties were part of the ecclesiastical and national calendar in Israel.

During the past weeks I’ve sat with Leslie’s family and friends.  She was my good friend and member of Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We helplessly kept watch as her life slowly seeped from us.  In the wee hours of the morning and during the sunlit afternoons, there were moments of joy that overshadowed the hurt and pain.  This was especially true when her extended family arrived.  Job complications had painfully kept them away.  But as quickly as they could work out the details, they arrived.

Seeing the painful hours creep relentlessly into days, I was drawn back to the hours spent with my family as we prayerfully watched over my mother during her last days.  There was the same inside humor and deep appreciation for each other that only the years of family ties can produce.  Meals were shared hunched over a small table, dispensed from plastic containers and served in paper plates and plastic forks.  And there was laughter, mingled generously with the tears. 

The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  I believe there is no time that this truth is more important than when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, holding the weak hands of a loved one. 

Is life a party?  No.  But joy and humor do make life more livable–even in the midst of great, heart breaking sorrow.

When have you been able to share in the joys and sorrows of the lives of your members?