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In sickness, choosing to find joy

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I’ve made a decision. Better said, I’ve come to a conclusion. Joy, real joy, has nothing to do with chocolate and my slowly emptying canister of chocolate chips. Joy is a choice, simply a choice.

That thought swirled around in my brain as I listened to this beautiful lady riddled with cancer pour out her heart at our ladies’ meeting. So many women were in attendance that the owner of the home ran out of seats for everyone. I squeezed my way into the dining room, found a comfortable spot against the wall, sat down and stretched out my aching legs.

It was actually kind of nice being on the floor. I was hidden from most of the crowd, which afforded me the opportunity to really focus on what was being said. I closed my eyes many times, confessing my own ungratefulness for the day, confessing my own lack of true thankfulness for all the Lord has done for me, to me and in me.

As this beautiful lady spoke of being diagnosed with cancer and the treatments that followed, you could feel the whole room hanging on her every word. She told us stories of how God had intricately woven her life together and how he had ministered to her over and over again the last couple of years.

She told us how the prayer blanket that the ladies’ group had given her had touched not only her life, but the lives of those around her in the treatment center. She talked about how cold it gets sometimes when she takes off her wig and how funny it is when people comment on how good her hair looks, thinking she’s gotten it trimmed.

We all just sat there, listening, sympathizing, rejoicing in her life. And as we sat there, we could sense (at least I think I wasn’t the only one) that something about this lady was truly different. It wasn’t her cancer; many people are diagnosed with that. It wasn’t her chemo treatments or even her wig.

I have to say the thing that grabbed most of us by the throat and shook us to tears had nothing to do with the circumstances of a hard life. Instead, it had everything to do with Jesus: What he can do in the life of one someone who has chosen to not take every day for granted. What he can do with a person who has chosen to not accept anything less than joy. What he can do with a person who has chosen not to let something as heartbreaking as cancer break her spirit.

Oh that I would be more like my friend and every day make the determination in my heart that “this is the day the Lord hath made. We (I) will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24.)

Prayer: Lord, help me do that today and every day for the rest of my life — to choose to find joy in my day and purpose in my heart, to seek it out simply because it is the day you have given, and I should choose to rejoice in it.

Steven and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and