I went to Lunch last week with a good friend whose family has been battling some physical issues. It has not been an easy road and certainly not fun one. What I love about my friend is that she is real and doesn’t shrug the reality of the struggle away with spiritual quips or slogans. I can see the pain in her eyes and know that this is no small battle they are fighting. We were talking about it all and we were laughing as she retold a particularly harrowing experience getting a medical test done. It is one of those “you either laugh or cry about it and laughing is better.”

Then her expression sobered a bit and she said, “You know, I don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying the things we can. I get to choose joy. This is not easy, but God has given me a choice and permission to feel joy in the midst of it.”

Then almost at the same time, we both said , “That is abundant life” and laughed.

We often think that the abundant life promised from Jesus means that we will have a life free of conflict, stress, pain or illness. It does not mean that. True abundant life is the ability to feel joy in the midst of the trial. To have permission to appreciate the beauty in the horrible situation and the hilarity in the midst of sadness. To live the abundant life in the middle of real life.

We get to choose joy. It can become a balm for the tired spirit and the strength you need on a weary journey.

I don’t know where you are this morning or the myriad of choices that are laid before you but I want to remind you that joy is one of them.

No matter what.
No matter how.
No matter who.

You can choose joy.

And in that joy find the freedom you have have been seeking.


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