This post is #69 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
We did not know before Hannah was born whether she was a boy or a girl. We had an ultrasound done, but the doctor was unable to conclusively determine her gender from the grainy pictures .... This was well before the incredibly detailed ultrasounds available now! So we had to choose both a boy's name and a girl's name. We struggled to come up with a boy's name we both liked, but the girl's name was easy. I had always loved the story of Hannah in the Bible and felt a kinship to her, as our daughter's conception did not come easily to us. And the name Hannah, when paired with the middle name Joy, had such a beautiful ring to us.
Hannah loved her own name ... "Hannah" because it was a palindrome, and "Joy" because it was, well, joyful. "Joy" has become my theme word since Hannah went to Heaven. It reminds me of her, of course, but it also reminds me of the joy that is to come when I see her again one day.
Verses about joy abound in the Bible, and I've listed ten of my favorites below. As you read them, I want to draw your attention to how many of these verses have the word "joy" juxtaposed with grief, tears, trials, affliction, etc. Maybe I'm drawn to verses like that because of my own experience, and that's why these are my favorites. Or maybe it's because that's how God so often seems to work ... allowing us to experience heartbreaking sorrow, but always following it up with a restoration of joy.
Maybe it's also because our capacity for joy expands based on the depth of our sorrow ... the greater the sorrow we've experienced in life, the greater our ability to experience true joy. And, of course, the joy we experience here on earth is nothing compared with the fullness of joy we will know when we are reunited with Him and our loved ones in Heaven someday.
1. "So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your JOY from you." John 16:22
2. "These things have I spoken to you, that my JOY may be in you, and that your JOY may be full." John 15:11
3. "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of JOY." Job 8:21
4. "For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but JOY comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
5. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with JOY, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will praise you forever." Psalm 30:11-12
6. "You make known to me the path of life; you fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11
7. "Consider it pure JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3
8. "And provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of JOY instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3
9. "Shout for JOY, you heavens; rejoice you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones." Isaiah 49:13
10. "Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of JOY!" Psalm 126:5