Ever had one of those days? Or maybe one of those weeks? Maybe even months?
You know what I am talking about.
You get an A on your first paper.
Your parents surprise you by giving you money toward tuition.
You get asked to go to the Christmas Banquet by that guy you’ve had your eye on.
Life just seems to be full! Full. Of. JOY!!!
Have you ever had one of these days? Or weeks? Or months?
You know what I am talking about.
Your books didn’t come in in time for your first paper.
Your student loan didn’t go through.
Your grandparent died.
Your parents are separating.
Your best friend isn’t talking to you.
You can’t even remember when the last time was you felt joy.
I’ve had one of these months.
When I read the email Kaitlyn sent me asking me if I would speak about joy- I laughed at God.
Did he not see that right now I have little cause for joy? What a joke! My husband is off work with a complication from a dog bite, I am doing my job at SBC as well as his in the afternoons and some evenings, PLUS driving our kids to youth, wrestling and other extra curricular things. I lead a discipleship group and still have to do laundry, dishes, and groceries and make meals.
I don’t feel joy- I. Feel. TIRED!
And then, before I could respond to her email, she comes into my office and asks if I got her email. “Yes, yes I did.” I told her. “BUT if you are looking for someone to share about the joy in their life then I am not the one to do it right now.”
That morning I had already had a major cry over how overwhelmed I was with life.
“If you are looking for someone who is trying to FIND joy then maybe I could share at Chapel.” Is what I said.
I even told her that I feel joy is a choice. I said it with conviction and then thought “I don’t know if I really even believe that right now.”
So I took the challenge. Maybe it wasn’t a joke; maybe God wants me to really be looking for the joy in the hardships.
Wouldn’t you know, suddenly the word JOY began popping up in my life everywhere.
I bought a bunch of books at MCC for a craft. The box they packed it in? Was from JOY detergent.
As I put the Christmas decorations up at my house I realize that I have a lot of things with JOY on them. Wreaths, ornaments, books. It seemed to be everywhere.
And then a post from Ann Voskamp came across my Facebook. “Joy is always possible because there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.”
Shoot. There it was. Joy is a choice to be thankful. I guess I really should start looking around for things to be thankful for. Start looking for the beauty around me, give thanks, and find joy. I can do this!
Just give me a glimpse-Lord- I prayed.
I drove my daughter to an emergency Orthodontist appointment in Winnipeg and thought, “Ugh, another thing I have to add in my already busy schedule.” I was stewing about it all the way there. My daughter and I drove in silence. As I slowed down at the construction zone on the highway I glanced out of my window. There in the ditch was a beautiful Red Fox.
Just sauntering along the highway. “Wow,” I thought, “That is beautiful!” And then I remembered that I was looking for beauty and thanks and joy. Answered prayer? Maybe.
The next day my daughter and I were in the car again. This time driving our dogs to Ile Des Chenes for grooming appointments. As we slowed down to let an ambulance pass us we noticed 8 bald eagles in the grove of trees along the highway!
Wow! Beautiful! Answered prayer? Maybe.
But this is not how I expected to find joy this weekend. I thought maybe someone would offer to make us supper, or clean my house, or my kids would have an amazing attitude. THAT is where I was looking for joy. Instead God decided to show me the beauty in nature and remind me of the verses from when I was a kid.
Verses like: Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Okay, so I am starting to get it. As overwhelmed as I am. He will look after me.
What about the fox? Matthew 8:20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Joy IS one of the advent themes and I was starting to get it now! He came. He came here for me. He came not to make a home on earth but to make a way for me to have an eternal home in heaven.
I honestly don’t think that Mary was struck with joy when the angel Gabriel announced she would be carrying the Messiah. Fear? Yes. Confusion? Yes. But Joy? I don’t know.
And when they had to travel to Bethlehem? Fear? Yes. Confusion? Yes. But Joy? At nine months pregnant I didn’t want to go anywhere much less on the back of a donkey!
And when he was finally here, the labour was over and she held him in her arms and realized that God would look after them as He had been all along? Fear? YES! Confusion? YES! Joy? YES!
Did she always feel joy after He finally arrived? I doubt it.
What about when He hung on the cross for the sins of all mankind?
Joy was hard.
Joy was a choice.
Joy was being thankful for what He was doing for her and for you and for me.
And that is the challenge.
To look for joy. To really look for it. To look for it in places we don’t expect to find it. To look with our expectations put to the side.
The world was waiting for a King to redeem them. They weren’t looking for a baby in a manger. And yet, that baby brought joy to the world in a totally unexpected way.
This weekend, when I finally put my expectations of what joy should look like aside and looked for all the things He had done for me and all that He promises to do for me….I felt joy.
And wouldn’t you know it? The things I expected to find joy in from happened too! An invite for supper,an unexpected thoughtful gift dropped off at my door,
kids with great attitudes, a neighbor snow blowing my driveway. All joy.
He gave His life so that I could have joy. Joy in this fallen world. Joy in my hardships. Joy each and every day.
My job is to be thankful in all things because when we choose to be thankful, we choose to find joy.
Joy will not be complete in this world. We will have glimpses of it. But until we are forever in the presence of the Lord, who gave up everything for us to have eternal joy, we will only taste it.