Straight from a Joyful Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Christmas time: the time of year when everything should be “merry and bright”. The time of year when we promote and sing about happiness, peace, and “joy to the world” can prove to be the most challenging time of year for many people! It’s the season of people’s highest highs but also their lowest lows. It brings out the best and the worst in people. We don’t have to look any further than the mall to witness it!
When my oldest daughter, Natalie, was a toddler one of her favourite Christmas Carols was Silent Night. She would go around the house singing “Silent night. Holy night…Sleep in heavenly pieces.” I could never bring myself to correct her, simply because there was more truth to be told in her innocent rendition than what she realized.
I’m sure you would agree that we live in a broken and hurting world full of broken lives, broken dreams, broken relationships, and broken bodies due to illness and diseases. We experience broken hearts which often lead to broken faith as disappointment, disillusionment, discouragement, and depression seep in through the cracks of our brokenness. We long for glad tidings of comfort and joy. And it’s no wonder…we are all sleeping in heavenly pieces. I know this firsthand.
Six-and-a-half years ago my 18-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Not long after his diagnosis I came home from the hospital to find my Christmas decorations splayed in fragments all over my garage floor. It was a perfect visual for how I felt—fragmented, shattered, and broken. That year Ben spent three weeks in hospital over Christmas and New Years that he didn’t remember but one that I’ll never forget. I spent it alone by his hospital bedside while the rest of my family was banned from the hospital with a flu bug. That was the last Christmas I would spend with my son. He died eight months later. The first Christmas after Ben left us I wanted to smash the remnant of my decorations. Each year since his death has presented new challenges.
Thankfully, I found joy in an unexpected place. She sat in the back pew at the church where my husband pastored. “Joy” taught me a lot about “joy”.
• Joy does NOT equal happiness.
• Joy and pain can co-exist.
• Joy can guide us to meet God in our pain.
• Joy is not a ‘feeling’, it is a ‘knowing’.
• Joy gives us the strength to take the next step.
• Joy demonstrates to us that life can go on.
• Joy tells us that there is life after death.
• Joy frees us to worship God through our tears.
• Joy accompanies God as He works in the deep recesses of our hearts meant only for Him.
• Joy doesn’t necessarily have answers…Joy just is.
• Joy reminds us that although the pain of loss never fully goes away it will get easier to deal with as God’s healing takes full effect.
• Joy opens us up to new things about God we never knew.
• Joy celebrates the ways God uses our pain to reach others. (Excerpt from The Ben Ripple)
Over two thousand years ago God gave us a gift that came wrapped in the form of a baby—a bundle of joy! This baby was born to die so that we could have life. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life through a personal relationship with Him. There is no life like it! It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
The Christmas chorus says, “Joy to the world the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.” Have you received the King? Has your heart prepared Him room? In the timeless Christmas story recorded in Luke 2 the angel said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”. That same good news applies to you and me today! Let Him enter through the brokenness of your life and into your shattered dreams to provide the comfort and joy that only He can give.
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
(Read more about turning a Christ-mess into Christmas once again in my book The Ben Ripple)
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org