Who can say God does not have a sense of humor after looking at this photo? Our amazing Father in Heaven, the One who created every detail of this universe and everything it contains, also created this dog! It is clear He wants us to LAUGH. I think it gives our Creator great joy when we make the most of our time here on earth. When the complications and challenges of cancer enter our lives, this becomes down right difficult at times - BUT even more important - as we realize that each day we have together is truly a gift.
Looking back over our journey with Zach after his diagnosis, the times of silliness, fun and laughter are our most cherished memories! As all of you know, when a day contains any level of “fun” while in the confines of a difficult treatment schedule, it could be labeled as a GOOD day. Add some face splitting smiles or deep down belly laughs and it suddenly becomes a GREAT day! It is our hope and prayer you find many great days ahead as you continue your battle.
Take the time to celebrate half birthdays as well as the real thing. Stop and play a board game or have a water gun fight even when you have about a million “other” things to do – you won’t regret it. Let go of the pressures that can surround you when facing the unknowns of the future, and take in our amazing sunsets or gather a big bouquet of bright colorful flowers. It is easy to overlook these wonderful, intricate treasures God gives us each and every day. Just to sit quietly with your child or spouse, hold hands and leave the world behind can fill your heart with an enormous amount of joy that can never be taken away.
No matter how hard we try, I know there are days where smiles and laughter are no where to be found. The reality and pressures of all the pokes, treatment plans, nausea, blood draws and pills can become overwhelming to the point of desperation. These are the days when you have to force yourself to do the opposite of what you are feeling and focus on the joy that comes from knowing God. This is the joy you experience in your heart – even in the depths of despair and sadness - when you surrender to God and allow yourself to lean on Him for strength. I have experienced this joy even on the very darkest of days. I can tell you without hesitation, if I did not have access to this wonderful gift – the joy of knowing our Father has so much more for us than the trials we face now – I would have surely fallen to despair long ago. Having the joy in my heart only the Holy Spirit can give through Jesus Christ is what gives me the strength to find smiles and laughter as I face each new day.
Here are some scriptures and promises from God related to this wonderful gift of joy.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (LB)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2 (NIT)
“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The LORD is great!’” Psalm 40:16 (LB)
“Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.” Psalm 68:3 (LB)
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward.” Hebrews 12:2 (LB)
“I know the LORD is always with me…No wonder my heart is filled with joy.” Psalm 16:8-9 (LB)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
“Happy are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts.” Psalm 119:2 (LB)
“I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith.” Philippians 1:25 (LB)
“The joy of your LORD is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
“When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity.” Hebrews 10:34 (LB)
“In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11 (NKJ)
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)
Happiness can be a fleeting thing. Joy, on the other hand, will stay in your heart always when it carries the promise of salvation. God does not promise us a life filled with happiness – when sin entered this world that became an impossibility. He knows we will face many trials and difficulties as we take our journeys together here on earth. What he does promise is lasting joy for all those who surrender their lives to Him. Joy from the Holy Spirit is an everlasting joy for us all.
Dear friends, it brings our hearts happiness AND joy to share these words and gifts with you. We hope you can find many smiles and much laughter as you continue on each day. Remember to be looking for those silly moments that can make smiles appear and know every smile you give away will be much better when it comes back to you on the face of another. Our prayers will be sending you joy for your journeys each and every day!
“Therefore I live for today-
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the way.
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after the rain!