I have been thinking about joy a lot in the past week. When I usually think of joy I think of a bubbling emotion that wells up from happiness. I think of pleasure and delight. The Bible often mentions joy with the word gladness. My daughter's middle name is Joy and she lives up to the definition I just described. Her bright blue eyes and white blond hair bring a smile to anyone's face; she is exuberant, kind, thoughtful; she is imaginative and can easily entertain herself for hours; she answers a request with, "OK Mommy" and is, for the most part, willing to obey.
But, the Bible also mentions joy in a way that seems a bit contradictory. James 1:2-5 says,
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
The way God created my children differently is a living example of the many facets of joy. There is a natural bubbling up of gladness but there is also the joy that you need to claim, you need to intentionally see in the midst of hardship. My first born brings me joy in many ways too: he is curious and inquisitive, he is enthusiastic about the things he loves, he loves learning, he is also head strong and defiant at times. He can also wear at my patience a little more than the other children. But, that doesn't mean that I love him any less or that he doesn't bring me as much joy as my other children. It just means it is something I need to live to experience. It is something that God gives me through perseverance and calling on Him. It is more of a perspective than a bubbling emotion.
The past few weeks have also been a hard lesson in joy. Jesse was having some side effects from the mediation we had started him on to treat his ADHD. It was becoming emotionally overwhelming for me as well as for him. I also just struggled with the reality of our fallen world- sorrowful that we live in a world where brains don't work correctly and kids need medication to function optimally in life. I was sad that my boy had to go through this at all.
But as I sat in church yesterday, I realized that these trials are gifts, they are a chance for me to experience joy when it is hard, to muscle my faith, to believe that God will provide all I need.
I am so thankful to have a God who provides what we need- without reproach. I am thankful that nothing is wasted. All these years of painful instruction and correction will produce a complete work in me and my children. These trials that seem unbearable at times with produce rich fruit.
So, today I rejoice, with joy, in my children and in the ways they make my heart swell and hurt. And in the God who gives only good gifts!
(21) a new medication, no side effects
(22) my son back to himself, smiling as he gets off the bus
(23) this picture, the first time Jesse has colored a coloring page at a restaurant!
(24) sitting through a church service, actually taking notes, for the first time in a long time
(25) a doctor who is also a friend, prescribing and praying for our son
(26) my little girl's bright blue eyes and the excitement they hold
(27) celebrating her and everything pink!
(28) the testing of my faith
(30) holding a cute, chubby baby during church
(31) a baptism and new members to our church family
(32) the joy of worshipping with the body
(33) watching Jesse help Daddy with a project
(34) the "I'm so sorry" after a broken window
(35) a weekend of family and friends and lots of food
(36) the ways in which I am growing and changing
(37) the hope that I am not finished yet!