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How so Joyful?

Reflection

Generally speaking, Palestinians suffer economic poverty, but not necessarily poverty of self, community, or Spirit. Every morning our friend Ameen sells breakfast bars, coffee and tea, and cigarettes to Palestinians who possess those precious permits to work in Israel. Palestine had been on lockdown for two weeks when we video-chatted with him. Now, our friend from the same ancient village as the prophet Amos (Tekoa), is out of work.

How ironic that now we in the U.S. are on lockdown just like the Palestinians. However, due to the Israeli military occupation, Palestinians have considered themselves to be “on lockdown” for decades now. “Call it a ‘quarantine’, a ‘shelter-in-place’, a ‘lockdown’ or a ‘curfew’, we Palestinians have experienced them all, though not at all voluntarily. Now that nearly half of the population of planet Earth are experiencing some form of ‘curfew’ or another, I would like to share a few suggestions on how to survive the prolonged confinement, the Palestinian way.”

Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian journalist, shares in April, 2020

What I’ve learned from Palestinians:

· Cherish family. Celebrate them and hold them close.

· Live purposefully whatever the circumstances.

· When you are suffering despair, talk to someone else in despair.

· When you are temporarily afraid, talk to someone who lives in constant fear.

Then how can they be so joyful—seemingly all of the time? And be so welcoming, often of citizens of countries who are or support their oppressors?

This is what I have seen. Both Christian and Muslim Palestinians practice living in recognition of the sovereignty and justice of God. That is good advice for us no matter what the circumstances, but especially now. In that light, please hear what God has to say to us today:

Scripture

Isaiah 40:21-31

21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

 

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