She walked out on the stage with what seemed like quiet confidence. The judges clearly sensed something different about her. Beauty inside and out on display. She possessed a peace and joy that was palpable in the room. She had come alone. When asked what she did for a living she smiled and stated, “I haven’t worked for several years because I have cancer.” (Still keeping her glow and smile). The judges seemingly taken aback again, asked how she was doing now. Still smiling….”I have some cancer in my lungs, spine, and liver. But…that’s ok.” Then her story of the last year unfolded through a song called “It’s OK” which she wrote herself in a clear and emotional voice.
I’m sure many of you know exactly who I’m writing about if you watched America’s Got Talent or if you are on Facebook. Not only did she knock the socks off the judges who were clearly moved by her, but she has caused a huge reaction all over the country. Although her voice was amazing, it was her glow, obvious peace while facing an uncertain future, and her thankfulness for the 2% chance she has to survive, that makes everyone know there is something different about her and wish we had her outlook. She had a clear message she wanted to give to all who listened….“There is more to me than what’s wrong with me; You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy; and I wish everyone understood how great 2% is.”
Since I have a reputation for crying at ribbon cutting ceremonies and hallmark commercials, (my mom used to say I loved having a good cry), this 30-year-old young woman touched my heart to its core! Not just because of her tragic illness, but because of her glow and intentional peace regardless of her circumstances. I saw her living out her faith before my eyes in her less than five minute time on national TV. In an interview she stated she believes God does not withhold good things and if He had stopped all she has gone through this past year, the good things that happened in her spirit would not have happened.
Is there someone you know that if you were asked what joy looks like, you would think of them? What do you see? True joy is not being jolly and full of fun. Joy is not fake. It is an emotion that transcends circumstances. It is an emotion we produce. It is a fruit of the spirit. True joy reflects the character of Christ by the Holy Spirit in us. Joy comes when our desires, attitudes, or actions are transformed. John 15:11 says “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (NASB).
There is one person in my life that is such an inspiration to me. She has had serious health issues for several years. She has endured many tests, almost debilitating medications, many restrictions to having a normal life, and uncertainties. She, of course, has to be very careful being in public which has isolated her from attending church and other events in her life. Yet, every time I call to check on her, she ends up lifting my spirits, rather than me lifting hers, just by her attitude, trust, and faith in her future. This joy is in her voice and her words. I am sure she has no idea how she affects so many of us. It is God who makes us joyful or happy…..not our circumstances. I know I fail to exude this same assurance of my faith and joy when my life gets hard.
Psalm 92:1-4 says:
It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, 2 to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, 3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. 4 For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
(from New International Version)
There is a progression in this Psalm. We are to give thanks for His love in the morning and His faithfulness at night. His goodness to us should bring us joy. We must show the same to others. 1 Thessalonians says we should give thanks in all circumstances. There is nothing random or wasted in our lives even though it may feel like it.
When we are thankful and full of joy, we will see things we may have missed when we are weighted down with the stresses and circumstances of everyday life. Susan Hunt calls these “heavenly hugs.” Such things as the beauty of creation, the sound of the ocean, the feeling of his presence, and the gospel being advanced in loved ones and friends. The privilege of prayer is our access to His presence and power of the Lord.
In the midst of pain and trials we can choose joy. When we can no longer control our circumstances and happiness runs out, will we still have joy? We can… if our lives are rooted in God. I see a picture of what it means to be rooted in God when I drive around and see the damage from the fires last September. I will see a large, even though blackened, tree standing strong even after the stress of a fire; and next to it is another large tree lying on the ground, roots up in the air, burnt, and ready to be hauled away by loggers. If we are rooted in God, even though we may be in hard situations, dealing with grief, or other losses, we can find joy as an expression of our faith on what we know to be true of God. I am being honest when I say dealing with grief over the loss of a child is the most painful thing I have every experienced and felt no joy. When the numbness wore off, I only found comfort and joy in knowing God had promised David would be with Him forever. It is promised to all believers and a cause for joy.
It is not our circumstances that strip our joy. It’s a choice not to walk by faith. WE CAN CHOOSE JOY! This is what makes our message of the gospel as Christians powerful and believable. Romans 8:18 says: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (NASB)
My friends….we can enjoy now because the troubles of today and this moment, the fear of covid, the upheaval in the country, and challenges of every day life are not the end of OUR STORY. Holy, Holy, Holy, you are the king of Kings, you are my everything, and I will adore you.
Are you a joyful person?
Do other think you are a joyful person?
Do you have that deep inner spring of joy that is rooted and has its source in God?
Am I walking by sight rather than faith?
Have I lost sight of the promises of God for the future?
Are my eyes off the finish line?
Are my eyes to buried down here and not looking up?
We Fight on our Knees Poster
When I began writing this series, I felt it was necessary for all of us to have some form of reminder that we do, in fact, fight on our knees in prayer. So, I had this poster designed for you to download for free and print. I hope it offers you hope and encouragement as you face whatever comes your way.