I can’t tell you how many times the same awkward situation has occurred when someone finds out for the first time that my parents are divorced. For instance, just a little while ago I met a girl on the first day of a new class. We talked for a while and I happened to mention something about visiting my dad that weekend. Immediately her brow wrinkled and she asked “What do you mean?”
I answered, “Oh, my parents are divorced. I visit my dad on the weekends.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry.” I could have predicted her reaction even before she said anything. I could see from her eyes that she meant what she said. Like every other person who has gone through that same dialogue with me, she looked sorry for me and a little embarrassed for having brought up the subject.
The reaction I get from unbelievers is about the same as from Christians. But there is one difference. Unbelievers don’t expect me to have any joy. As soon as they hear me say that my parents are divorced, or that my dad left, they look at me differently. It is as if they are excusing me ahead of time for the way they expect me to be: a normal depressed teenager. Here is an incredible opportunity to share the joy of Jesus! They won’t understand why I can have a hope in me which surpasses their own. My joy is that much more amazing to them because they know it is not because of something shallow like my circumstances.
We are to live as lights to the dark world around us. Our lights will only shine that much more brightly because our joy is the opposite of what people would expect. Our joy will serve as evidence to support the message of Jesus and salvation that we proclaim.