Christmas is less than two weeks away! Are you feeling joyous? I’m honored to welcome two amazing friends today as part of the #JoyIsRising series. May their stories inspire thoughts that bring great joy to each of you.
When my fourth child was born in 2010, we gave him a name that testifies to the joy we’ve found in the hard places.
We just didn’t know it at the time.
When I was in my twenties, my family went through a time when the hard things kept coming and coming, one after another. The hardest thing was our firstborn’s cancer diagnosis.
That period of our lives was so tough. In the midst of it, we became a little obsessed with the verse in James that says to consider trials “pure joy.” Our baby had cancer: how could there be joy there? As committed Christians, we struggled to make sense of Paul’s words. What could he possibly have in mind?
Our son got well, though we continued to struggle with the hard things. That wasn’t the end of our bad luck, and dealing with the after-effects and side effects of the cancer became our new normal. I still felt like I needed God to get me through every moment. It turns out, that’s not a bad thing for a Christian.
That hard road led me to the place where I could begin to understand this surprising joy Paul was talking about. I couldn’t tell you the day or hour when I first glimpsed the joy in the hard things, but one day it was there.
That joy didn’t look like I expected it to; maybe that’s why I missed it for so long. I thought that joy would look like health and healing and happiness. It didn’t.
The joy I learned to see didn’t mask the pain. But it was right there with it, beside it, beneath it–deep and resounding and full. Hard times are hard, but God is faithful and love remains and–that? That is joy.
Had it been there all along, waiting for me to notice, to find it? I suspect so.
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And that brings me back to my sweet 4th baby: Silas James.
It was a few years later, and I was feeling the hard again. My little guy wasn’t sleeping–he was literally waking up every 30 minutes around the clock–and I was going crazy with fatigue. Crazy.
I was driving down the highway, crying out to God, asking him what I was going to do about my sweet baby Silas.
The answer came back to me so clear, like a blessing: Silas James.
And for the first time I realized the meaning of my son’s name. We had named him for joy.
Silas the apostle sang praises to God through the night from his prison cell, and James called his hardest times “pure joy.” Silas James. My son.
This sweet reminder had been dropped into my midst, waiting for me to discover it, waiting to remind me that even in hard times, God is there and he is faithful.
And joy is there, waiting to be found.
Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy, and muses about faith at Anne With an E. Head here to get her free guide Paper Gains: A Guide to Gifting Children Great Books from Modern Mrs Darcy.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Anne! May we all discover joy in the hard paces! (If you missed Shannon’s story this morning, be sure to check it out here.)