"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and
grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12)
Years ago, I went to a conference in Los Angeles. One of the speakers was H.B. London, who is known nationally as being a pastor to pastors in crisis. He spent over twenty years leading churches, so he experienced first-hand the trials and tribulations of being the target of church members, especially when they were frustrated with his preaching or annoyed at his decisions. He called those people ‘joy-suckers’ because they literally sucked the whole joy out of his being and, funnily enough, they did the same to the happiness of the congregation. Many pastors at the conference understood how he felt and, at that time, I also knew what he was talking about.
Nowadays, I take a different view. I’ve discovered that people who H.B. London labeled as ‘joy-suckers’ usually have undergone a tragic or traumatic event in their lives, which overshadows their spirits. They carry burdens in their hearts and souls which affect their relationships and sometimes they become spiritually depressed. It’s not that they are ‘joy-suckers’; they are really ‘joy-seekers’ trying hard to cope with life and courageously carrying on despite the hidden heart breaks within them. They know the prayer of David, when he pleads with God to restore the joy of His salvation. They seek this above all things and desperately try to lead a normal, happy life.
Perhaps we are going to come across people who carry painful and heavy burdens this week. Perhaps our first reaction is to avoid or show a disinterest in them. They need to know that we love them, so we need to be patient and listen. We need to be open to hearing their hurts and help them to find the joy, healing and strength that their spirits yearn.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep us from being dismissive of others who appear to be ‘joy-suckers’, but who are really ‘joy-seekers.’ Teach us to be patient and help us to help those who are trying to cope with the hurts and hardships of life that we may never know or ever experience. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.