Friday, December 19, 2014

Faithful Friday: JOY

Joy wasn't something I thought we'd ever feel in December again, much less the other 11 months of the year.  When our world turned upside down, after the loss of our son, joy seemed impossible.

I remember seeing the scripture, "Joy comes in the morning," shortly after Austin's death and almost feeling anger at the thought.  In the depths of our grief, the idea of ever waking up to joy wasn't something I could comprehend.

But great loss doesn't always have to be the reason joy escapes our lives.  Sometimes, some seasons, joy just seems hard to find.  For whatever the reason, morning after morning, joy doesn't come.

As the days grow shorter and colder, finances tighter, and stresses increase, depression can peak.  If this sounds more like what you are facing now, friend, my prayer is that joy will find you this Christmas.

For me, it did come in the morning, just not right away.  Nearly two years after, in the wee hours, well before the sun arose, a stirring brought me out of bed.  God nudged me to the computer to write, my release, and told me I had to choose joy.

This blog, my life's challenge, began.

Has it always been easy?  Absolutely not.
Are there days joy is hard to find.  Sometimes.
Did it erase all the pain and hurt?  No, but it helped to soothe it.

With each day, each effort to search is out, the challenge became less and less.
Until eventually, joy was just there.  Here.  Everywhere.

Through this journey I've learned that joy is not the same as happiness.  Something doesn't need to happen, for joy to be.  It is more an internal radiance that, no matter what is going on around you, still exists.

"Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness -- happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes, 
when you're lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love."
Saint Adela Rogers Johns

Joy comes from gratitude.  Having a thankful heart increases joy.  It is a focus on what you have, not what you haven't.  There's a statistic that says those who track their gratitude are happier by 25%. More joy just from being thankful?  Yes, please.

And true joy, for me, comes from God.

A fruit of the spirit.  Joy is something that stirs and grows within us from Him.  As we walk closer with Him, our joy tank overflows and spills out to those around us.  Joy shared is joy doubled!

My challenge to you for the rest of this season, is to seek JOY.
Search it out.
Find it in the small, every day moments.
Live in gratitude.  Count your blessings.
Connect with God.  Pray.
And soon, one morning, joy will come.


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