Monday, December 12, 2011

Choosing Joy

I came across this old post tonight while looking for something else and it took my breath away--mainly because I had watched an amazing PSA about melanoma earlier then scrolled down to see a healthy looking Sweeney. (If you have been reading for a while you will recall that he eventually succumbed to metastatic melanoma in April of 2010).

As if the photo weren't enough, I was very convicted by the words I wrote accompanying the post. Cabell & Mike had just received a great report when I wrote it. Friends and family breathed a collective sigh of relief. We rejoiced that Sweeney might get his miracle--healing of his body on this Earth rather than in Heaven.

Three years later, my heart is burdened by other heartaches. Even tonight I have been asking God how to pray for a couple of friends who are in DIRE places. I was convicted by my own words:

"It occurred to me that I wanted JOY to settle in and take residence in my life the way sorrow, worry and concern had a few months ago. I want my waking and final thoughts to be those of joy. And when I wake in the middle of the night, why is it always by concerns rather than joy?

Christmas seems to be the most appropriate time of the year to learn this lesson. God was truly Emmanuel to our friends as we have walked through this dark time. His presence has been felt. He has been our source of strength, help and comfort...and now, to HIM be the glory."

And three years later I am learning the same in ALL circumstances.
Joy that Sweeney is whole and healed in Heaven.
Joy that this Earth is not our home and not the final chapter in our lives.
Joy that God has a plan that differs from mine. (gulp)

I must also choose to remember that Jesus was called Emmanuel--God with us. He is with us in the joy and with us in the pain. His decisions not to intervene in the ways we expect Him to are not a reflection on His love for us...they are a reflection of our difference in perspective and our lack of trust in His ways and His plans.

Ouch, again.

Mary would likely have not written her story the way it turned out: Virgin, impregnated, disgraced and forced to tell a story that sounded ludicrous...riding a donkey great distances in the final days of her pregnancy, delivering her son in a stable amidst the livestock...watching her son grow up and leave to bear an enormous burden we cannot comprehend, standing by as he was brutally murdered by the very ones He came to serve and save.

No, it is not the story she would have written...but it is the story she obediently lived out. The history of the world was changed because she submitted to God's plan.

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Luke 1:38 (NIV)

It is not documented that she whined, complained, lamented or rebelled. I imagine that's why God chose her.

May it be for us as well.


Missy said...

Our nature so wants to "Fix" all the sorrows and eliminate the pain, but often that's where we glimpse the true miracles: peace, hope, contentment, community, Him.

Thank you for sharing!

Jana Endris said...

Thanks for encouraging me with this post today! God is with us in the joy and in the pain....I needed that reminder.

Allison said...

I enjoy reading your blog, and I agree there are so many people in pain. Some we know, and some we don't. God is good all the time. I would like to say that Jesus was not murdered, He willingly gave His life.

JMom said...

Allison- I agree with you. I guess I was writing it from the perspective of Mary. It is a good point you raise: I wonder if she understood that He was willingly giving it at the time or if it felt like murder?
I don't think I have every studied anything about that point.

Allison said...

I'm so glad you didn't think I was trying to cause a conflict, b/c I certainly was not.

I CAN'T even begin to imagine how Mary must have thought.

My husband is a pastor so we have discussed and studied in pretty good depth.

I do certainly appreciate your posts and enjoy reading them!

JMom said...

Allison- Absolutely not. I absolutely welcomed the spirit of your sentiment! I usually write what I am thinking about...realizing I don't have a theology degree! :-)

I want to know more about what you & your husband have studied. How much do you think Mary knew/understood? Such an interesting thing to ponder theologically!

Allison said...

I'll be honest, it's not very easy to just read and understand, you really have to do lots of digging and praying for wisdom.

Mary did have some understanding, she had much faith in what God told her and the responsibility He gave her. However she didn't comprehend it all, but with time came more understanding.

She knew that Jesus was sent to save the sins of the world and to give hope to Israel. She did agonize greatly over His death, but still had great faith and trust in the Father.

A few Scripture verses you can read, and again really requires lots of digging and reading and comprehending the whole context...
Luke 1-2
John 2
John 19

I hope this helps some, it's very helpful for me being married to a pastor, b/c I can ask for help and references anytime!!! God bless!

Peter and Nancy said...

I am so sorry you have many in your life who are on a difficult road right now. There's no doubt about it, this life is messy, painful, and unpredictable . . . but Christ has overcome it! (I know you know that.) Praying for your compassionate heart,