Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Joy and Grace - There is a Connection

December 29th...an important day in our house - the birthday of our oldest daughter. Today we celebrate Joy's 11th birthday...my little girl is growing up. Though this is a day of joy and celebration it is also a day that marks another anniversary. On July 29th, our niece, Grace was killed in an accident, so today we've been grieving her loss for 5 months.

I'm grateful God has blessed Joy with another year of life, but we still don't understand why it seems Grace's life was cut short. I know Scripture tells us God knows the number of our days (Psalm 139:16) and I believe that to be true, but in the grieving process we do wonder why. I trust that's why Scripture also tells us to lean not on our own understanding, but to trust God with all of our heart. (Proverbs 3:5)

It's obvious there are many things in this life we don't and won't understand, but as I think about Joy and Grace today I'm reminded of something I've been learning.

The night of Grace's funeral I remember Joy saying to me, "Mom, Grace was like a big sister I never had. I want to play basketball like her. I want to love people like she did. I want to tell them about Jesus like she did."

Death is hard...grieving is a process. And when you're a mom something is added to this - pain for your personal loss and hurt for your kids as they grieve. Joy was 10 and Grace 20 at the time of her accident and Joy did look up to her, enjoyed being with her and liked laughing with her. Grace was a role model, who took the job seriously and included little people in her life. She shared grace and brought joy.

Awhile back as our pastor preached from Philippians, he made this statement, "Joy and Grace aren't cousins. Joy is a sister to grace." He was not talking about two people in my life, but about things you and I both need.

He came to this conclusion by studying the words in original language. In the Greek, the word for grace is "charis" which means grace, favor and kindness. In the same language, we see the word for joy is "chara", which means joy or gladness.

I'm no scholar, but I've dug into this a bit deeper...do you see how similar these two words are in the old, original language? There is a connection between the two and it's more than a base word or similar spelling. One commentator kept it pretty simple - joy is grace recognized, while another explained joy is being properly aware of God's grace. Ultimately they both come from Him.

Friend, I know death can diminish our joy and Satan will try to steal it, but when we remember God's grace nothing can destroy it. This isn't some superficial, happy all the time joy, but a fruit of the spirit. A joy the world can't offer and doesn't understand. A joy that still sheds tears and experiences all kind of emotions. A joy that comes from the Lord because of God's grace.

Today, on the 29th of December, I remember Grace with Joy. She's a girl we all loved and now miss. We remember gifts she gave and things she said. Joy dreams of doing things she did and living a legacy like hers too. I also remember Grace with joy. Because of God's grace, our Grace is with Him today and one day we'll all celebrate together again.

Until then, I pray God will continue to pour out His grace on us. As we receive it, experience it and share it, I hope we will be filled with joy because of it. Today, we'll celebrate Joy and remember Grace, but I pray all of us embrace God's grace and experience His joy!

"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." (Jesus' words in John 16:22)

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2-3)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

3 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness... first of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOY! And thank you for showing us the "sisterhood" of Grace and Joy. I've never looked at the original language to see how the two are intertwined. Great wisdom. Thank you. I love you and your J Crew :)

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  2. Oops... Love, noelle

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  3. Happy, happy birthday, Joy. You are so beautiful inside and out!! I pray God richly blesses you over this next year ... teaching you more about His heart and His deep and abiding love for you. I pray for lots of love and laughter to fill your days. And have your mom give you a big hug from me. :)

    Blessings,

    Wendy

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