Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing heart. Psalm 51: 10-12 (NRSV)

It's been more than three years since Malinda Fillingim's husband died at age 54. She thought she would be better by now - with therapy, time, and serving her church. But her sorrow and grief linger like uninvited guests who won't leave.

To help reconcile her grief and find purpose, Malinda has been collecting old, broken furniture and restoring it. Then, using words and photos clipped from recycled magazines, she decoupage the furniture, giving it a new life. This process has allowed her time to think, pray, and see that there is still beauty in all things, even in the brokenness of her heart.

Slowly she is finding small windows of joy reminding her that God is with her. God is the joy of her salvation and values and loves all of Malinda, even the broken parts. Grief can rob us of many things, but it doesn't have to rob us of God's joy that enables us to walk through deep valleys.

May we learn from Malinda, as we walk through these deep valleys caused by this virus; some deeper valleys than others, that we can still experience the joy of our salvation, by remembering that God is with us and that He loves us.

Prayer: God of joy, remind us of our beauty in times when we feel vulnerable and fragile. Guide us to be hands of healing to those experiencing difficulties, and give us a song of joy to sing even when we cry, in Jesus' name, amen.

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