“The Joy of Life”

Joy is a game changer, a rule breaker, and even a life saver. It’s something many people have lost sight of over time. As children, joy is so easy. For those of us who have experienced joy killers like tragedy, loss, abuse, etc, etc, joy may have been unnaturally curtailed or even wiped out of our lives completely. We don’t always have control over the events that shape us. Even as adults, we learn all too quickly that our lives can take turns down roads we never wanted to travel. We soon enough come to the conclusion that joy is not possible, practical, or attainable.

I have a couple of friends currently dealing with a situation that in one friend’s words is like riding a roller coaster. The name of this roller coaster is cancer. Many people are familiar with this particular ride, having undergone it themselves or with a loved one. Many of us have lost special people in our lives to this roller coaster. It seems to be a ride you can never fully exit. For many people the fear of it coming back is ever present. Steve’s blog is here.

I think, however, that his choice to maintain an attitude of faith and hope even in the face of such a monstrous fear as cancer makes it possible for him to experience joy, in spite of his situation. His faith is not in himself. His hope is not merely for hope’s sake, or for some generic idea that things will get better. He is not wishing on a star. He knows better than that. Facing the truth of the situation, Steve chooses to look PAST his fear to the One who has been with him and will continue to be with him the entire journey.

I don’t like to think about cancer. I don’t like to talk about cancer. “Not in a boat, not in a tree”; it seriously scares the heck out of me. I have personally lost some of the most important people in my life to cancer. I don’t understand why. I don’t understand why a lot of the ugly, terrifying, heart-rending things go on in this world. I have noticed, lately, that the most beautiful, precious, and uplifting things in the world are God things and the most terrifying, disgusting, evil things are man things.

So many people are caught in the re-run cycle of pain, shame, guilt, fear, and so forth. There is ugliness and heart break in the world, but we don’t have to be swallowed up by it, period, end of story, we’re done for; and certainly, we do not have to contribute to it. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The French have a phrase: joie de vivre, which means, simply, the joy of life. Whatever anyone’s opinion of the French, there can be no denying the fact that they seem to have a unique ability to add special touches to just about anything to make it more beautiful, special, or memorable. Even a simple life can be beautiful when you take the time to appreciate (and I think this is key) the world around you. Appreciate the gifts you have been given, the use you have of your mind and body. There are many throughout the world who would LOVE to have your life, your body, your troubles, your health. In other words, BE THANKFUL. There are many who would love to be in your shoes.

Psalm 28 : 6 – 8 “Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for JOY, and with my song I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

Basically, if we bring our focus back to God, and what He has done, every single day for us, as well as what He continues to do, not to mention what He did on the cross for us, how can our lives be anything but joy-filled? It is easy to be Pollyanna about things when you haven’t experienced them yourself. I may write, by and by, about some of the griefs I have experienced on the road to where I am today; but today, I want to focus on my brave friend Steve, and my brave friend Milissa, and countless others whose lives fly in the face of this monster fear, and continue to put one foot in front of the other, and hold onto joy, in spite of it.


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