Last week, I sat in a hospital room, praying my son's lungs were strong enough to go home after a respiratory virus had flared his asthma, leaving his little body desperate for oxygen.
Yesterday, I sat hooked to an IV-drip for my sixth round of chemotherapy.
To say this month...this year...has been different would be an understatement. But as I sat in that hospital room, and in the recliner today, I realized...I am joyful. Not because of my circumstances or surroundings, but because of a not-so-easy lesson recently learned.
I love everything about Christmas...the carols, the cookies, the crazy shopping excursions, and the chaos. As a matter of fact, I embrace the chaos. I get entirely stressed out with lists and plans and commitments, and I love. every. single. exhausting. moment.
But I knew I would have to scale back this year. No big baking extravaganza. No crazed holiday shopping sprees. No frantic Christmas party planning. I knew this year would have to be simple.
I really struggled with the idea of being content with less this year. Less time. Less energy. Less fun (in my mind). Which all led to less joy.
Then, in a sermon recently on joy, our pastor made the following statement:
Joy is not dependent on what happens to us, or around us. It is a result of what has happened in us.
I'm not sure what he said right after that, because I was stuck on that statement. That truth I could not ignore. That thing I've been clinging to and spouting about for the last few months. Somehow I had forgotten it in the midst of my holiday pity party.
If God is good (and He is)...
If He loves me (and He does, and you, too)...
If He has a plan for me (which He does, and for you, too)...
And, if He is big enough (which He absolutely is)...
Then I can have joy. Not because of my situation. In fact, I can have joy in spite of my circumstances. Because my joy is not based on what happens to me or around me...it's a result of what God has done in me.
Joy exceeds emotion and sentiment. It is a supernatural result of a supernatural grace.
Suddenly my perspective changed. I started to find joy in the small things...
Like the fact that our hospital visit came on my "good week" when I was feeling well and could be there with my boy.
Or that having treatment the week of Christmas has forced me to back down from my normally-chaotic holiday schedule. And slowing down allowed me to find the joy again in Christmas.
After all, isn't that how joy came that very first Christmas? In the smallest of packages...to the unlikeliest of people...in the most unexpected place...on the most ordinary of days?
No one noticed the young couple who wandered into town.
No one gave a second thought to that manger outside of town where the couple bedded down for the night.
Until...the heavens split wide open with an announcement to a group of roughians on their night watch:
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
That GREAT joy came in the smallest form: a baby born to an unlikely couple on an ordinary day in the most unexpected place.
So, whether you need a little joy to rescue you from the craze of the Season, or you need a lot of joy to outshine the heaviness that overshadows your life at the moment, I pray you find this Good News...this GREAT JOY that has come to Earth. Because in Him, and only in Him, can our joy be complete.
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We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:3-5, The Message)
Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.