You and I have been on a month long learning experience together, and it is about to come to an end. All things have a beginning and an end. Projects, days, seasons, lives ~
We began with the birth of a word, a calling, a message from God ~ and a belief in the promises He has made. We said â€śYES!â€? to His call.
Next we made the journey required to reach the ultimate destination that has been prepared for us. We learned to follow the lead of the One who knows what is best.
Preparation of our hearts, minds and lives was next. Making ready the pieces of ourselves that would be needed to fulfill Godâ€™s plans for us. This preparation makes us ready to give joy and to accomplish what God has called us to do. Now it is time to rejoice.
This too is an ending of a sort, rejoicing. Mary rejoiced in the birth of her Son, the ending to that particular calling on her life, yet the beginning of another. She gave glory to God for doing what He had promised. For fulfilling what she had said â€śYES!â€? to.
Rejoice in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary says this:
To take joy in, to give joy to
Joy is evident when we are happy and fulfilled. Thatâ€™s the easy part. But what about the times when life isnâ€™t going as we planned, when tragedy is falling all around us, or the end comes a bit too swiftly for our taste? Being joyful can be downright difficult. Many things are beyond our control or influence. We simply cannot make them as we would like. But it is in these times, I believe, that we can have the greatest influence on the world around us.
Tragedy is a daily occurrence â€“ just look at the news. We read time after time about the failures of people and government, about the darkness that this world has to offer. But every now and then you see a story of hope. A story of how, in the face of tragedy, one person exudes joy. In these times it might be difficult to take joy in the situation, but we do have control of whether or not we give joy to the situation.
Giving joy can be the difference between despair and hope, not only for the person involved but also those who observe. Â Joy for ourselves can help us to cope with what is going on around us and keep us from deepÂ and debilitating depression. Others seeing our joy , especially when the situation does not warrant it, can bring light and hope.
Joy can melt a heart - especially when given in the face of tragedy. This is how we show the world who God is. This is how we can give hope to the hopeless and life to those who have all but given up. We can give them exactly what they need â€“ peace, compassion, joy, love. It is within our control to be a beacon of light to everyone we meet, and show them what a little joy can do to influence others.
Here are a few ideas to spread joy in the lives of others this week:
- Give a small gift card to someone who looks sad or beaten down. I did this in the check-out line at Michaels. The clerk looked like she had rung one too many orders and her face hung low, her eyes never meeting mine.Â I asked if she was okay or if there was anything that I could assist her with. She replied that she was simply trying to process everyoneâ€™s orders without making mistakes that would make them stand longer in line.Â I had the impression that she had been on the receiving end of much frustration that day.Â When she handed me the receipt, I simply thanked her and handed her a gift card to Panera for a coffee. She immediately looked up at me with hope and joy in her eyes, and the smile that spread across her face was worth the five dollars spent to give that joy. She thanked me and it seemed as though her whole demeanor had changed. My prayer is that the smile stayed there for the rest of her shift, and the joy that she felt spread to those around her â€“ especially the frustrated ones!
- Give a gift card to someone who is giving the joy that we just talked, about in appreciation of their efforts. There was a young girl ringing my order at target that exuded that joy, even though those around her were downcast or just simply tired, she had a smile that stretched from ear to ear!.Â I handed her a McDonaldâ€™s card for having such a beautiful smile. Her smile got bigger! (it is possible!)
- Help someone in their trial, even if they are simply trying to reach for a box on a shelf out of their reach. When we put aside our own needs or tasks to help someone else in theirs, we show them that they are more important than we are. This is Godâ€™s will for us â€“ to show the love that Jesus has for us.
Not everything that you do has to cost money. I try to keep a few $5 gift cards from various places in my purse, especially this time of year. Â If that is not something that you feel led to do - give compliments, give smiles, give time, give compassion. These things are freeâ€¦ to give as well as receive. And they can brighten a day in an instant.
In this last week of December, letâ€™s remember to rejoice and celebrate.