Monday, December 14, 2015

Joy Again

This was originally posted in December 2011. I considered rewriting it because, while I will always feel a little melancholy this time of year because of my son’s absence, I don’t feel as sad as I did when I wrote it. In the end, I decided to keep it as I wrote it because it is the message of joy I hope to share today.

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At the beginning of the week, I had this whole blog planned out. I researched the traditions of the advent season – why three purple and one pink candle? Why some churches use all blue instead? When did the observance of Advent start and why? Why the weekly themes of peace, hope, joy, and love and which order do they really belong in because it seems to change year to year. Traditionally, this week’s theme is joy as you can see from the title. But to be honest, I don’t feel joyful. I feel completely opposite of joyful in fact.

I’ve been missing my son. My heart feels like someone has rubbed it raw with sandpaper and all I really want to do is hug Bryan. Tell him I love him and I miss him. I can’t seem to stop crying which really gets in the way of doing all the things I normally do. It’s too bad this week’s theme isn’t love….then I’d have something to write about. But how can I possibly write about joy when my heart is breaking.

Mercy Me sings a song called "Homesick" – the chorus has been running through my head a lot:  I close my eyes and I see your face. If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place. Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow. I've never been more homesick than now. That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now – homesick for Bryan. I look around at all the Christmas decorations everywhere and I turn on the radio and hear all those familiar Christmas songs and instead of feeling joyful, I want to cry.

Why do I tell you this? It’s not to entice your sympathy.  It’s because I’m not the only one missing someone this Christmas and if you’re missing someone too, I want you to know you’re not alone. And because I really felt it was necessary to share where I am right now so that you understand that I really mean what I am about to say. It’s not a greeting card sentiment, but a truth to be taken to heart.

Today I asked God what I could possible write about joy in the middle of my grief. He surprised me with a simple but wonderful statement that renewed my mind, filled the pieces of my broken heart with hope and brought me comfort. He said that joy isn’t a feeling. Joy is an attitude and it is the way he has created me to approach each moment of this life. Even through my tears, I can still joyfully praise and serve and love the Lord. I can choose to joyfully anticipate the day of his coming when He will wipe every tear from [my] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…(Revelation 21:4) His joy is in me because the Lord Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve. He came to bestow on [me] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. [I] will rejoice in [my] inheritance and everlasting joy will be [mine].(Isaiah 61:1-3, 7 selected)

So this coming week, no matter how busy or sad or frustrated or whatever else I become, I choose to rejoice in the Lord as I eagerly await his arrival – both the Christmas celebration of his birth and the great and wonderful day of his glorious return.

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