Lauren and I live in an 820 sq. foot apartment. On paper, that seems like it’s a lot, until you consider that the suite we had on our honeymoon was over 1000 square feet. 820 square feet does seem small when we started to try to put all of our combined stuff into it from the 26 years that we were our own people, specifically the 8 years that we each lived alone and had fully furnished our own spaces, with furniture, electronics, kitchen equipment, and bath stuff. So our apartment seemed really small to us, then we added my niece and nephew for a weekend. We had literally no place to go. There were toys everywhere! There were snow boots by the door, clothes strewn about the floor, and so, so much more. It was like 2 little tornados of snotty tissues and dirty clothes rampaged through our 820 square feet 3 times a day for 2 days. But there were certainly silver linings.
Part of living a life of radical joy and radical dependency on God is living in a way that acknowledges the good. This is not to say that we ignore the “bad” things or downplay the struggles, but we emphasize the good that happens in our lives. We start to live lives of joy and gladness instead of gloom and doom. Sometimes it takes a good deal of time for these silver linings to show themselves, but if we are attentive, we can always see them with the help of God. Let’s take a look at one of those stories in the Bible.
Genesis 37-50 tells the story of a man named Joseph. This is not the Joseph that married Mary, the mother of Jesus, but rather the Joseph that the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is “based” on. Joseph was a young man of seventeen when he had a dream that his father, mother, and brothers would all bow down to him one day. As you can imagine, the brothers and parents were certainly not happy with this dream of his. So the brothers schemed to get rid of Joseph, and get rid of him they did! They ended up selling him into slavery and reporting that he had died. Joseph was by all accounts “dead to the world” except for the Egyptian official that bought him. Joseph ended up being accused of rape, thrown in prison, and through a number of God-events is raised up to be the Pharaoh’s right hand man, second in charge of all of Egypt.
There ends up being a famine throughout the entire Mediterranean world and everyone had to come to Egypt, where they had created massive storehouses of food because of a dream that Joseph interpreted from God. Joseph’s family ends up coming to Egypt as well, and when they interact with Joseph they realize what they have done. They bow down and prostrate themselves before Joseph, just as his dream fortold. The brothers are terrified that Joseph will deal retribution to them and sell them into slavery just as they did, but Joseph responds with grace. He says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph went through some serious trials and struggles, but in the end he was willing to see the silver linging. He was willing to live a radical life of joy.
I guess 820 square feet isn’t so bad right now. Lauren and I have even started to intentionally look at some of the weird things that happen in our apartment and find the silver lining in them. We’ve even started to call our apartment the “Silver Lining Apartment.” It’s helping us live more of a joyful life.
What do you need to do to start living a more joyful life? Let’s be radical together.