Recently I was rummaging through old pictures and memorabilia. I found a ton of pictures of Scotty and me from 2005. Pictures of him in Iraq, young and full of life with plans for a prosperous future. They were sharply contrasted with the ones of him and I in the hospital, in rehab and at various outings trying to find our new normal.
Something struck me as I was looking through these pictures; I almost always had a huge smile on my face, in some pictures I’m even laughing, like head-thrown-back-open-mouth laughing and it got me thinking about JOY. Anyone looking at the pictures would instantly think I was someone who was filled with joy.
These pictures spoke to me all these years later, in a time where I’m finding happiness hard to come by and where JOY seems impossible to uncover. I was reminded that JOY and happiness are quite different. God does not promise us a “happy” life, where we get everything our little heart desires, but He does promise us JOY. I look back at these pictures and tears run down my face, because in one of the most hopeless situations of my life, a time when nothing was happy around me, I had JOY, pure joy. I had joy because it was a time where nothing else mattered but my heart, my relationship with God and others.
“Count it all Joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2
As I reflect this Christmas season, I’m reminded that the world will always try to steal our joy, but there is nothing on this earth that can happen to me or my family that can take away my JOY in Christ. He gives and takes away, and I have so much to be thankful for. Today and always, I’m thankful for the pure, sweet trials and testing that has produced endurance in me, I count it as all JOY.