I asked my dear old friend, Adele O’Reilly (she’s not old, we’re old friends) to guest post for this Friday’s Faith-Filled friend. She is one who lives by faith, and I learn from her in each and every conversation. She writes powerful drama sketches and is an incredible actress herself. But the only character she plays in this life is her real one, daughter of the King and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.
Joy. The world tells us we can find it in the coffee creamer we use, our favorite vacation spot or even the perfect job. One time I caught a glimpse of a preacher shouting at his television congregation that they need to be joyful, lest the world think Christianity is full of scowling people. So I guess we should all be happy 24/7, right? Christians should just plaster a smile on their face that tells the world everything is perfect.
I don’t think so. To be quite honest, this has been a hard season for my family. My mom is in the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. I am named after her, and she doesn’t even know my name. I am heartbroken and devastated. Many of us are struggling with unemployment, broken relationships, health issues. But Scripture tells us again and again to have joy—in all circumstance. So, is happiness the same as joy?
I remember a few years ago I was in the middle of the perfect holiday season. I was blessed to have my first play produced right in my home church. My husband had a wonderful job, my kids were thriving. Just two days after the final performance of the play, I went to the doctor for a minor problem. A week later I was scheduled for major surgery, and was facing the possibility I might have ovarian cancer.
I dropped my daughter off at her preschool and was heading to the doctor’s for the pre-op checkup. I wanted to be brave, but I was failing miserably. I starting crying so hard, I pulled over. I had a frank conversation with Jesus, telling him how scared I was, that I needed to be healed, pleaded with Him to please let me live. Gradually my prayer changed to please give me grace to face whatever comes. The sadness of the “what if” was very real; yet in the midst of it, God gave me the gift of His perfect peace. After a little while I felt something new resonating within me and I realized with a start—my heart was filled with joy.
I didn’t know what would happen in that operating room Monday morning. But I knew God did. I decided to place my trust in Jesus in that circumstance. In all circumstances. The great tradeoff-He gave me joy in return. I still was not happy about what lay ahead, but I was joyful Jesus would be there with me. I had been blessed with that inner assurance of just how much I was loved.
God answered my prayer to be healed. Almost five years later and I am cancer free. God has not chosen to heal my mom. As she deteriorates, my family members remind each other of God’s faithfulness in everything, and that His grace will carry all of us through this difficult time. Along with the sadness, we share the joy in our hearts that Mom will be completely healed one day soon.
Finding Joy in every circumstance is simple. Just choose Jesus Over You.
1st Thessalonians 5:16
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Adele O’Reilly loves how the Lord is the Ultimate Artist! She is blessed with family and friends that share her passion for using the arts to tell His Story. You can find a few of her writings at Faithwriters.com.
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