What is Joy anyway?
There are song lyrics.
Joy to the World. . . .
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. . .
Joyful, joyful, We Adore thee. . .
Joy-a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Rick Warren adds his own definition: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
While I agree with most of those definitions.
I don’t find that everything is going to be ‘all right.’
Sometimes it’s painfully NOT all right. . . this side of heaven.
And we are forced to live with aches and holes that will never be filled.
Dreams dashed and shattered.
Illness, paralysis, death, rape, bankruptcy, broken relationships.
Never again to be “all right” as we know it.
I don’t think joy is a feeling of happiness.
Maybe I’m mincing words?
On a cold winter day in 2013, we took a drive into the Hospital.
It was my farmers first appointment for radiation for a rare type of cancer.
I was a year out from the death of my mom, 4 months out from the death of our beloved son.
I was in a perpetual fog.
We drove down a well traveled road.
Basically on auto-pilot.
I don’t remember what we talked about.
It was Christmas time.
I had shopping to do.
We still had 5 kids on this earth, a son in law and a brand spankin’ new, beautiful, snuggable grandbaby.
We drove on and a diner that had been closed for a while, seemed to have its lights on.
In me stirred something.
I’m not really sure.
It was fleeting.
I looked back.
We kept moving forward.
Another thing to the list.
We walked into the radiation area to check in.
I froze, as my farmer walked to the desk.
In the middle of the room was a beautifully decorated Christmas Tree.
In front of the tree was a table filled with Christmas delights.
Cookies, candy, appetizers, cheese platters.
All for the taking.
The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
My eyes were open.
My emotions; raw.
Right at the surface.
I noticed this gift.
And in me stirred that ‘something’, again.
An indescribable feeling.
A place with no words.
A place of silence.
Yet, boldly proclaiming too.
It reappeared when we drove by that diner on the way home, and it was indeed open.
We stopped and walked in.
Christmas music softly played from the staticky radio.
The windows were lined with colored lights.
I wondered if this was real. . .
The smell of coffee and cooking food permeated the room.
We took a booth and soon I had a cup of hot steaming coffee in my hands, indicating this was indeed. . .real.
That waitress learned where we had come from and kept my farmer well fed with soup.
It became a frequent stop along the journey.
And that feeling, began to slowly bubble again.
Hard to describe.
Another day that week I found my self at the kiosk at the hospital purchasing one of the best Vanilla Latte’s I’ve ever had.
I took my cup and I could hear the barista quietly say, “I’ve been practicing.”
I looked at my cup.
There, nestled in the foam, was a heart.
And slowly, in crept that feeling again.
I sat and pondered that stirring.
I now recognize that bubbling as the beginnings of joy.
A deep down sense, beyond words.
A response to the goodness of God; despite the circumstances.
Contentment, knowing God is holding all of this.
He is holding the future, our tears and our heartache.
A few days later, it happened again.
My farmer had 5 days of radiation and on the 5th day, he also had chemo, all day long.
I wanted to send out Christmas cards.
I sent out a letter that year.
I shared the devastating loss of our son and the cancer diagnosis of my farmer.
But I also wanted to share the goodness and faithfulness of our God.
I found a quiet space with tables at the hospital.
I spread out my cards and got another one of those amazing lattes.
(someone had blessed us with a hospital gift card to buy coffee and food)
As I sat addressing the envelopes, listening to Christmas music and drinking my coffee,
that feeling emerged once again.
God was providing these moments of deep joy, despite the heartache and uncertainty.
He was whispering a love song to my heart.
I didn’t understand the lyrics.
The melody unfamiliar.
Yet, its rhythm stirred with in me a symphony of emotion.
The joy I experienced during that time is something I will never forget.
I had intended to publish this blog post during Advent.
Advent has come and gone for another season.
Most people have put away their tree.
Cleared out the presents and wrapping.
Boxes tucked in the attic until next year.
I still sit in the quiet of our parlor and marvel at all God has done.
Joy the World!
The Lord is Come!
I rejoice at the joy He has restored to my aching heart.
The circumstances haven’t changed.
The sense of loss still ever present.
Nothing will ever be ‘all right’ again.
But we will choose to seek joy.
We will walk alongside the Holy One; the Incarnate.
Waiting and watching to see what He will do.