"We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him . . ." Romans 8:28 (GNT).
As I prepared to write this year's Advent devotional, it's exactly six years since my husband, Bob, fell and sustained a brain injury.
This has been a treacherous journey. However, there have been many undeniable blessings along the way. I've discovered that life is not a series of peaks and valleys; rather it is parallel paths of pain and joy.
Sometimes joy is wrapped in happiness. Consider the joy of Mary upon receiving the news that she would give birth to Messiah, or the joyful message of the angels to the shepherds. Yet, I’m sure their joy was mixed with fear. And when Jesus endured the cross, he did so "for the joy set before him" Hebrews 12:2. He saw beyond his pain and knew there was a greater purpose for his suffering—to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). I wonder, was Mary's happiness tempered by the babe's mission?
Joy is a hallmark of Christian fruitfulness. James gives us a clue as to how this fruit is
cultivated in our lives, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . the testing of your faith produces perseverance . . . so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" James 1:2-4 (NIV).
It would be easy to fall into despair over my husband's injury. Yet, we have been supernaturally sustained these many years—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—God has provided for us and helped us persevere by his Spirit and his people. There is joy in knowing we are not alone. There is joy in trusting God’s greater purpose for suffering. There is joy in believing that this world—with all it’s joy and pain—is not all there is: there is a city who’s God is the Lord, where every sorrow is known by him and every tear will be wiped away.
Oh come, oh come Immanuel, we await your Second Advent.
Dear Lord, when we face the trials of life, help us recall the ways you have already worked for our good. Help us to remember your blessings with joyful hearts this Advent season.
For those who've read this far, please continue praying for Bob and me, for God's peace, provisions, and power to keep moving forward!
Copyright 2019 Sarah Keith
Photo credit: Preslie Hirsch- Unsplash.com
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