For a person who has suffered on and off with depression in the past, joy can be elusive. Moments of great joy often come after moments of great pain. True joy can be hard won.
What is the definition of joy? Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the prospect of possessing what one desires, a source or cause of great delight.”
Several years ago on a missions trip to Costa Rica, our small team visited an orphanage. It was a quick stop on the way to the town where we would be staying for the next week. We were there to play games with the children and put on a play about Jesus. As we walked into the large gymnasium, we could see dozens of children running, playing tag, playing basketball, and laughing.
All except for one – Paulo.
Paulo had been born with severe cerebal palsy. He had been left at the orphanage at a young age when his parents realized they could not care for him. He could not walk or talk and was confined to his rolling bed.
I was drawn to him; while all the other children played, I sat next to Paulo. I did not know what to do or say. He looked at me, eyes vacant. I took his hand, stroking it softly. After a few moments, a song from my childhood came to mind and I started singing “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” and immediately his eyes lit up. I kept singing. He turned his head slightly eyes wide open so I kept singing. He turned his head ever so slightly, eyes on fire, he gurgled, trying to move. I kept singing; all the while he became more and more animated. I started crying and kept singing. He looked at me with eyes full of inexpressible joy. One of the ladies from the orphanage put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Paulo ama a Jesus,” translation, “Paulo loves Jesus”.
I had come to serve, and instead I had been served. That day I received a precious gift that still makes my heart ache. A joy so powerful, so inexpressible, all because of the mention of the name of Jesus.
I did not share Jesus with Paulo – Paulo shared Jesus with me.
A small touch, a song. Paulo could not walk, talk or feed himself, yet in his eyes was inexpressible, unmistakable joy.
Jesus did not have to come. He was born in suffering and He died in suffering. Yet for the joy set before Him, He considered everything a loss to redeem just one of us. Knowing what He did for us and who we are in Him makes joy possible.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.'”
Do not fear. Joy and suffering are many times two sides of the same coin. Whatever you are facing this Christmas – good or bad – He is there. He loves you and He is there. Take His hand, walk with Him, talk with Him, and joy will come in unexpected ways.
As a Christian, your identity is in Him. Your birthright is joy. Choose joy.
Jesus is the JOY king.
Jackie Root and her husband Doug live in Tualatin and have attended Grace Chapel for 3 years. They have two children: Andy is 10 and Katie is 6. Jackie worked in architecture for many years and now stays home and is starting a career as an artist. They love to travel, play tennis, read and watch movies together as a family.