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I have been to mountain top…for a bit.  I have dwelled in the valley…the darkest of valleys.  In both places I have found joy.  Being surrounded by loved ones as I watched my bride walk down the aisle for our blessed wedding day I could have exploded.  Seeing three beautiful babies be born into this world and presenting them to loving family and friends I couldn’t have been prouder.  Being told that my son had cancer, watching him suffer, watching my wife lose her son, telling my children that their brother had died, giving his eulogy…I have experienced much of life’s (I know not all) of life’s hardest hits.  Yet, even in those moments, I found joy.  I received love, encouragement, support, and most of all comfort from thousands.  I cannot think of a terrible time where there wasn’t good attached.  God gave me purpose, insight, and love through every malady.  There was joy.

Today, I am neither on the mountain top nor in the valley.  I am almost a “normal” person.  I have lots of good things and several challenges.  Nothing compares to either end of the life spectrum that I have encountered so far in my life.  However, it is in these times that I find myself at times lacking…joy.  I have even uttered the phrase, “Nothing is wrong…but it seems like there’s not a whole lot right.”  Granted, that is tremendously inaccurate but yet something I’ve said.

I am surrounded these days, it seems, by two groups of people.  The first are those whose lives are basically a dumpster fire.  It is an all consuming blaze where they just can’t seem to catch a break, and none is perhaps even fathomable.  Sickness, shattered relationships, financial ruin, abandonment, despair, and so much more.  The other group is filled with the plague of overwhelming annoyances.  No one of their maladies even approaches that of the dumpster fire folks but collectively their issues are overwhelming.  This group has the added pressure of the fact that they “can’t really complain” as others have it much worse.  Both groups are struggling with finding joy.

I have had it taught to me that everything in life has an opposite.  We know what cold is because we know hot.  We know love because we know hate (or indifference).  We know sunny days for we have experienced clouds.  We see good and know it for we have seen bad.  The only one without an opposite is joy.  For the true Christian (not just one that checks “Christian” off on the census form) joy comes from the fact that God came to earth as a human named Jesus.  He lived the perfect life that we could not and thus paid for our imperfections on the cross.  His resurrection completed His victory over death (and thus mine as I have given/dedicated my life to Him) and provides me with great joy.  On the mountaintop I can thank Him, in the valley I desperately seek Him.  In the middle though, He (and all that He has done for and through me) can easily be forgotten, thus allowing my joy to dissipate.

Some of you may say, “Bully for you Jay.  I’m not a Christian and I don’t believe in Jesus.”  Ok.  I have to believe that you know that I respect that and give you the right to disagree with me.  I then ask you, where do you find your joy?  Again, not your happiness or contentment…joy.  A feeling and understanding that rises above circumstance.  Where do you find your joy?  I hope you find it somewhere.

Assuming you have joy, what robs you of it?  Is it that cataclysmal event?  Is it the day to day grind of life?  Dare I ask if it is the past hurts in life that you have “moved on” from?  Don’t let it.  Remember and embrace that which gives you joy and take heart in the fact that it is always there.  You know for dadgum sure that I am not encouraging you to ignore your pain or “forget” your problems.  You must find comfort, you must heal, you must learn and grow.  Please however, grow, and find what robs you of your joy…and take it back.

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