Maria V. Gallagher has discovered a path to lasting joy through Christ.
“Joy to the World” was always one of my favorite Christmas hymns. My co-worker had a little girl she named “Joy” and I thought that was just the best. I have always been a person who delighted in finding and spreading joy.
But I must say, I used to believe that joy was a far-away concept — in other words, I will find joy when (fill in the blank). I will find joy when I appear on the Broadway stage … I will find joy when I go on vacation … I will find joy when I solve all of my problems.
Well, I never did appear on Broadway … my vacation joy tends to last only a couple of weeks … and I never have found a solution to every single one of my problems. If I had been waiting for joy to arrive in those ways, I would be waiting forever, because it never really came.
Still, I have found joy in Jesus. And I think that was the lesson that God wanted me to learn all along.
In John 16, we hear, “Your grief will become joy.” That’s an awesome promise. Any of us who have lost loved ones know the searing pain of grief. It hurts right down to your soul. I remember when my father died, it felt like the entire world was colder and less safe. And when my mother died, I lost my best friend. The grief in these two circumstances was great and felt overwhelming at times. And yet, I do believe in God’s promise that He, and He alone, can turn that grief into joy.
John 16 further states, “No one will take your joy away from you.” What a wonderful concept! No human being … not even the devil … can take away our joy, because it is founded in the Lord.
Furthermore, in Romans 15, we read: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy.” Not just some joy…not just a little slice of joy to savor with Christmas dinner…but ALL joy. It’s as if we are like a bottle of soda that has been shaken up and, when someone opens it, the bubbly bursts forth, seemingly endlessly.
But how do we arrive at that point?
Fr. Anthony DeMello talks about the importance of living in the eternal now. That’s why children are so happy — they follow that edict. They’re not obsessed with what happened in the past, or anxious about the future. They are satisfied with the present because it is, after all, a gift.
DeMello states, “As long as your happiness is caused by something or someone outside of you, you are still in the land of the dead.” Think about that—the land of the dead. That is somewhere I definitely do not want to be.
Fr. Frank Salmani wisely states, “People spend so much time waiting for something or someone to come along to bring joy and happiness, but it never comes.” It’s like tomorrow — it’s always on the horizon, but it never arrives. This is because joy cannot come from external sources, but must arise from the heart.
Fr. Salmani also says, “…if we are not happy with our life right now, we will never be happy.” We have to believe that God indeed wants us to be happy in this life and happy with Him forever in the next. When we resist Him, we resist happiness.
Simply changing our environments will not bring joy — we have to bring joy to our environments. We should not live in the past or in the future, but in the present moment, because that is where our loving Lord is.
Father Salmani defines joy as being “security in the Lord, knowing that He is ever present and never far from us.”
My hope and prayer are that you too will find the joy you have been longing for.
Copyright 2020 Maria V. Gallagher
Image: Austin Schmid (2015), Unsplash
About the Author
Maria V. Gallagher spends her days advocating for women, children, and families. She is the mother of a beautiful ballerina and a member of the worldwide Cursillo movement. In her spare time, Maria likes to blog, walk, sing, dance, and fill the room with laughter. Read her work at MariaVGallagher.com.