You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. -Psalm 30:11 NIV
Tis the season to be jolly. And I admit to feeling that way this year. But I am also aware that maybe not everyone is feeling as joyous this Christmas for one reason or another. Tightened finances may keep families apart due to the expense of traveling this season. Others have gotten bad news from the doctor. Some may be looking for work and can't find it. And then there are the folks that have lost a loved one this past year and are feeling especially lonely. How can the joy of Christmas be captured when facing these things?
Today I was in the checkout line at the department store. I struck up a conversation with the elderly gentleman behind me. He was holding a new fishing rod and reel and was looking at it admiringly. I thought he was buying it for a grandchild because it was exactly like the one we gave our son many years ago when he learned to fish. The old man said with pride and a twinkle in his eye that he was buying it for himself. As he began to chat away, in about 5 minutes, he told me a great deal about his life. He had moved here just two weeks ago from the mid-west to be closer to family. His wife was an invalid in the nursing home, his son died as a child, he still drives everywhere he goes and had traveled to South America years ago and it was his favorite place on this earth to fish. Yes, all this in just a few minutes, and I never even got his name! But what struck me about this man as his story unfolded, was that he had every reason to be sad about moving from his home of many years to a new place so far away, or distraught because he precious wife couldn't talk and he didn't know if she recognized him anymore. He could have felt great grief that his son was taken so young in life. Or could have been anxious about exploring a new town and fearful about driving on unfamiliar streets. But no. He was smiling from ear to ear. He laughed, his eyes sparkled. He was simply bubbling over with joy. This man was happy to be alive. I wished him a Merry Christmas and smiled back at him as I said goodbye. This stranger was clearly in his mid-80's and seemed to have more energy and enthusiasm for life than I did. Before I drove out of the parking lot, I just sat for a few minutes and thought, “ what was the lesson”? I believe what made that gentleman special in my eyes was that he was determined to have joy despite his circumstances. He wasn't cranky or bitter, but was genuinely happy. This man made a great impact on me. Maybe he was one of those “old school” kind of people. Where you lived simply, gave thanks and worked at living life until the last breath.
Whatever we face, whatever our circumstances, I believe God wants us to be cheerful about where we are on our journey. We are to remember that He has the Plan and we are taught to believe that He orders our steps. If it is a hard time we are going through, He will sees us through. God is our source for everything. He is the Healer and the Provider. With God on one side and us on the other side with the talents and skills He has given us, we can be overcomer's. We might not have expected to be in the middle of a difficult situation but God says to cast our cares upon Him. If we find that we are blessed this season, then perhaps we can reach out to help someone that is struggling. Sharing God's Grace with others. Wherever we are and whatever is going on, there is always joy that we can claim. Perhaps the answer is right before us...developing a Godly Attitude, no matter what we come against. We cannot control our circumstances but we do have the ability to control our attitude. Like that old man in the checkout line, maybe we can find a little joy this Christmas, too.