I don't think I'm what you'd call an overly joyful person, altho I'd like to be. I consider my sister in law a joyful person. Her smile is beautiful and she makes you feel good... by smiling (she says she gets it from her dad... the smile... and her sisters all have it too... so lucky!!). I watch her sometimes, from across the room, trying to learn how she naturally causes people to feel comfortable. When someone snaps a picture of her, her smile is lovely. Natural. Me? Not so much...
I'm a work in progress.
Sometimes the everydayness of life steals our joy. Romans 12:12 tells us to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. And I do try my best to do just that. But sometimes... the everydayness of life steals our joy.
I know it's possible to be joyful... even in affliction... because I have seen it. I have even felt it. I remember soon after Josh was born and he and I were spending all our days together... in the hospital. I wonder how many hundreds of times I sang "He's got the whole world in His hands... He's got the doctors and the nurses in His hands... He's got the medicines and the machines in His hands"? I sang it a lot. And I believed it. I knew that God had us in the palm of His hand. I felt peace... and yes, even joy... in the midst of the chaos called Boston Children's Hospital.
I used to tell people I thought it was because I was there with him constantly and others weren't. They worried about him (and me!) but I got to see him smile and talk and sleep and eat. I got to snuggle him (and let me tell you, that was no easy task given all the wires and tubes and STUFF attached to his little body)... and sing to him. We took long walks in the little red wagon, IV pole, monitors and sometimes even spectators in tow. It was a joyful time (and yes, I know that sounds utterly ridiculous that watching my son fight for his life was a joyful time… but it was). And it wasn't because I was with him all the time... it was because God allowed me to be joyful (and patient) in affliction.
So fast forward a few years and a LOT of water has gone under the (proverbial) bridge. Fast moving water. Deep, sometimes frigidly cold water. We have swam in that water. Fished and played in that water. That water has kept us hydrated. We have even thrown stones into that water and watched the ripples affect the ripples. That water is what makes us who we are today… (corny enough for you?). But really… everything we have gone thru and endured… well, we made it (are making it). It’s not always easy and often times the everydayness of life steals our joy, if we let it.
I was thinking today (scary, I know)…. the big things we have gone thru as a family are just little things to other families. Their days have been darker than ours. And our little things? Well… those might be really really huge issues to someone else. We all have our issues, don’t we? And we all seem to judge others for the way they handle theirs, don’t we?
The first verse to a favorite hymn…
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
A few years back I watched a dear friend die of cancer but OHHH the joy in her heart was contagious. Doctors and nurses asked her about it but, most importantly to her… her own husband was affected. She told me when she was first diagnosed that if this is what it would take to bring her husband to faith, then it would be worth it. As far as I know, (unfortunately and sadly for us left behind), that’s what it took. I haven’t spoken to her husband in years but, the last time I did, he was walking closely with God… the best he knew how.
I remember one of my conversations with her just before she died … she had lost her vision, couldn’t eat, was in terrible pain around the clock… and she asked me to pray that her husband would find a wife quickly.
I told you… amazing.
I have prayed the same prayer… whatever it takes Lord… whatever it takes. But, I’m not sure I mean it. Suffering is no fun. Pain is no fun. Watching our kids go thru hard times is no fun. But we can rest assured that… “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
We are, right this very moment, experiencing some weeping… questions as to why Josh’s hip surgery failed and why he has to have daily pain, why Caleb’s shoulder isn’t strengthening up the way it should be (why is that thing STILL slipping out??), why Jared’s body makes him feel like he’s 93 instead of 13 (everyday!), why…why… why (and anyone that knows our kid’s history with injuries, knows I’m leaving quite a bit out, lol)??? But… there’s joy here too. Joy in knowing that God has Josh’s hip, Caleb’s shoulder, Jared’s aches and pains... and all our other (big and little) concerns in His hands.
Because… He’s got the whole world in His hands.
I read a quote today that perfectly sums up the point I'm trying to make here...
You have no idea how God, in His greatness and love, is going to use what He is taking you through now to mature you and bring you out on the other side. Sometimes we haven't a clue "where this is gonna lead," but I can tell you from experience, if God is in it, there are reasons far greater than the dream you have for your own life.
Every period of life has a purpose: Sometimes it's just to endure. Other times it's to thrive. And others are given to grow. But you can be sure, our great God knows the difference, is with us in all of them, and is not making a mistake about anything. - Luci Swindoll
Just some joyful (okay, just plain silly) pictures...