2009. Wow. It's here. (I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little old.)
How many of you are dreading the coming year? How many of you are worried about this new year? How many of you can truly say that you have joy?
I know, the economy is bad, people are losing their jobs and their homes, the outlook seems bleak on many fronts. So, how can I possibly ask you about joy, right?
Some of you may not know our story - and I won't take the time to explain it all here - but I understand tough times. I know what it's like to consider bankruptcy and have stared foreclosure in the face. I've paid $1500 a week for prescriptions and then wondered how to pay for food and the electric bill. And I've felt the emotions of owing medical bills that seem so monstrous you know you can never earn enough to pay them back. But in the same breath, I can tell you that I've also understood the joy of telling my children that we could live in an air-conditioned cardboard box - but as long as we were together, that's all that mattered. I've felt the intense relief of seeing my child for the first time after brain surgery. And I am well acquainted with the overwhelming feeling of gratefulness when gift-cards were given for food or clothing, or the hospital called and a bill for $75,000 disappeared, or a bus pulled up and with one incredible greeting through a megaphone, a fresh start was given.
But this is all part of the journey. The worst of times. And the best of times. Everyone goes through rough spots. (Some last a minute, some an hour, some a day, some even years or decades.) But it's not about comparing. It's not about saying, "Oh, poor me. My life is so hard." I believe, it's about how we handle those times. How do we react? What kind of example are we being?
Are we willing to reach out to our fellow man? Or are we wanting everything to be handed to us on the proverbial silver platter?
If you've heard me speak, or seen any of my writing, you know that James 1:2-4 are my life verses. The lessons learned have not been easy, and the road has been long, but I wouldn't trade that for an easy way out. No. Those verses tell us to consider it pure joy. The "it" is described as "various trials" of "many" and all kinds. And to paraphrase in my own words: LIFE in general. Are you considering life as joy? Can you face tomorrow - no matter what may come - with joy? And are you willing to say, "Not my will, but Yours, Lord"?
As we enter this new year, I'd like to challenge us all to think about those verses. And rather than thinking about how rough we have it, or how hard the coming year may be, let's focus on thankfulness instead, and reach out to others.
My fellow writer (she's amazing) and prayer warrior friend, Brandilyn Collins, brought a young girl's blog to our attention. Her name is Katy, and she is 16 years old. She and her mom are now homeless. Brandilyn put the word out, and through the first trickle of social networking, it became a stream, then a river, and is now rushing through cyberspace. The local news has picked up the story, and people are reaching out to help. Please go to Brandilyn's website: Brandilyn Collins and click on the link to her blog on the right for more of the story.
My point is that we should be doing more of this. Every day. No 'woe is me' attitude. In its place? Giving, sharing, reaching, loving, laughing... Living life abundantly. With joy.
Life is hard. But God... He is SO good.