Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

What is true joy? If you had asked me years ago to define joy, I would have said it meant extreme happiness.This was my working definition until I met a woman who taught me the meaning of true joy. She taught me how far from accuracy my working definition was.

Many years ago, when I was still a practicing nurse working in the pediatric intensive care unit at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama, I met a woman who in the face of a mother’s worst fear, maintained the countenance of what can only be described as the joy of the Lord. I had never seen this before and was bewildered by her demeanor, her attitude and her general presence and sense of peace as she received the diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia for her nine month old precious baby girl. The news was devastating. Yet she seemed oddly calm. Her joy was inexplicable to me because I did not possess such joy.

It was a Sunday; the last day of my seven-on work week and I was called in early to accept a new admit patient. Under normal circumstances, I would not be assigned an oncology patient. My charge nurse knew that these patients weighed heavy on my heart and it took an emotional toll on me to care for them. However, since I came in early to accept the new patient, I had to still my heart; put on my big girl professional nurse panties and take care of this child and family with composure. I immediately noticed something different about the mom. I did not think much about it at first and just assumed she was in shock and that the reality of the diagnosis hadn’t yet sunk in. As the days turned into weeks and even months of caring for this family, I began to recognize that this mom had joy despite the tragic circumstances. Her joy was supernatural found only in His presencePsalm 16:11

We had many conversations and I grew to sincerely love this family and even kept in touch with them after they left the hospital. This mom had the joy of the Lord deep in her heart. She wrote daily in her prayer journal and prayed over her sweet daughter. Her prayers were answered and her daughter went into remission. Apparently a  joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22 Although I shed many tears for this child, I never saw this mother shed a single tear. While her face radiated with love that I never doubted, she had an inner peace and joy that could only come from God. Her joy enabled her to believe for a miracle. 

This mother taught me that true joy is eternal because it is internal and comes from the Holy Spirit and therefore never changes. We can have this true joy because it is not dependent on external circumstances which fluctuate from good to bad to worse. Although her circumstances were difficult beyond my imagination, she remained joyful because she had revelation of the Holy Spirit activated deep in her heart. Her joy gave her peace and hope. Because of its supernatural origin, the joy of the Lord is present even through the trials of life.

I will always remember this mother and her precious baby girl. They made a difference in my life. I know that our meeting was a divine appointment orchestrated by God. She refreshed my spirit and renewed my heart for nursing. She shared with me that she immediately felt peace and knew upon her first look into my eyes that I would love her child and would care for her child just as I would my own. Although our paths have not again crossed, we are forever connected to one another. As I cared for her baby girl, she cared for my spirit in more ways than one. I think of her often and try to share with others my joy just as she shared hers with me.

Click on the link below and take a moment to go down memory lane and revisit a favorite childhood song about joy. ~ Tracey

Joy Joy Joy Joy Down in my Heart song


Your Turn: Have you struggled to find joy in times of trial? Are you confused about the joy that can only come from God? Have you been comforted by the inexplicable supernatural joy during a trial? We would love to hear your story. ~ Breath on Paper

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