Joy shows up in surprising places. More than giggles or a short joke, joy seems to bubble up straight from your heart. Joy’s mother is gratitude.
I’ve seen joy in the eyes of a mother who had to kiss a precious newborn goodbye. Mandy told me the story of her sweet son with her steel blue eyes full of love and tears. A few months into Mandy’s first pregnancy she learned that her sweet baby had trisomy 13, a genetic abnormality that would undoubtedly cause multiple deformities and extreme brain defects. Only 5% of trisomy 13 babies leave the hospital. All go to meet our Father before the age of one. Mandy had a decision to make. Does she carry her baby to term? Does she accept what is, and say goodbye now? She chose to carry her son to term. She felt him grow inside her. She felt him kick. All the while knowing, there would be no first steps, no first words, no earthly future. She delivered him with her husband at her side. They kissed his sweet little wet head and cuddled baby Jonathan until he breathed his last.
I expected to see anger in Mandy’s eyes when she told me this story. I expected to hear her ask questions of why God would allow this tragedy. Instead, what I found bubbling up from Mandy’s heart was gratitude. She shared with me how thankful she was to have the little time she had with her son. They named him Jonathan. Jonathan means ‘gift of God’. Possibly, the most trying thing a woman could go through is losing a child, and this sweet friend feels nothing but gratitude and smiles when she speaks of her little one, the gift.
I know when I’ve seen joy. I see it in my kids eyes when their dad gets home from a trip. I see joy in my parents’ eyes when I come for a visit. I see joy beaming from the soul of someone who finally hears about grace. I see joy often in the eyes of the disabled. Joy is contagious and wondrous.
Why is it that the people who often have a reason to despair also have this unimaginable and inexplicable joy? I believe there are some on this earth who get it, and then there are people like me who struggle with gratitude every blessed day.
First Peter gives us a picture into the lives of early Christians life and trials. Early Christians knew a bit about suffering. And yet, Peter encourages them to be patient and to be glad, to be thankful, that they can suffer for Christ. Peter pointed them to the joy of meeting Jesus in their homeland in heaven, eternal joy.
Two common thieves of joy are worry and malcontent. With abundant worry, you are joyless. Worry will make you question God. Worry is putting your trust in someone or something other than your maker. Worry is a cry for control over your own life.
Malcontent is the second thief of joy. Resting in God’s provision is the only way to understand joy. If you are breathing, be thankful. If you have a home, be thankful. Complaint is the opposite of joy.
God provided for my sweet friend, Mandy. He gifted her with a daughter. A daughter aptly named, Megan Joy. Megan means “pearl”, Mandy’s special pearl of great price also brings her family joy. Joy’s mother is indeed gratitude.
1.What is robbing you of joy today? Does worry own you? Do you resist giving God ultimate control over your life? Take a walk outside and consider the birds. They don’t work very hard and yet, they have plenty to eat. You are more important than birds, my friend. You are (Matt 6:26). You can’t add a hair to your head without God. Let go. Experience joy.
2. Look around you. Is there a roof over your head today? Did you eat this morning? Are you clothed? Then, be thankful! God has gifted you with this day! Thank Him for that next breath! Appreciate today.
Come let us sing with joy to the LORD! Let’s shout aloud to the rock of our salvation! Let us come to him with thanksgiving! Let us sing hymns of praise to him! -Psalm 95:1-2