Op-Ed: Remembering our source of joy on this Thanksgiving holiday

by Jacob Fuller

Vicky Arias, FISM News


Joy and happiness share a link, but one far outweighs the other.

Joy is an everlasting well of solace and blessing found solely in the Lord Jesus Christ, while happiness is tied to emotion.

The Thanksgiving holiday represents many things to different people. For some, it’s a day to spend quality time with family and friends and enjoy the warmth of good food and gathering. For others, it’s a stark reminder of loved ones lost, when the pain of loneliness can be felt a bit more sharply.

A couple of years ago, my heart was struck when I heard the story of an elderly woman who called in to a Christian radio show I was listening to at the time.

The woman explained that she was alone and felt lonely now and again. She told the host that she sits with her loneliness for a bit before she begins to feel guilty. The caller explained that, after a time, she is reminded that Jesus is always there with her and, so, she asks the Lord for forgiveness for not being more grateful for His presence.

I was, at first, surprised by her guilt until I realized that she understood the true meaning of joy and knew that Jesus would “never leave or forsake” her.

Loneliness, especially during the holidays, is a normal human emotion and is not, in itself, something for which to feel sorry. I think the problem comes in when we let it, or any other negative emotion, overwhelm us to the point of forgetting to be grateful for what God has given us.

In a world where many believe wrong is right and dark is light, joy is a precious commodity.

As worry, anxiety, and confusion crouch at our doors, cleverly inserting themselves into our daily lives, strongholds gained by the Enemy can be seen throughout the world and culture at large. Nevertheless, Christ has the power to instill in us a joy that the world can’t touch.

Pain comes for us all — wrapped in heartbreak, sickness, and sleepless nights — doing its best to paint a shadow across the day, but, for the Christian, joy in the Lord can light up the darkest of nights. Jesus’ atoning death on the cross gives eternal life to those who believe in Him.

That alone is sublime but through God’s infinite kindness, He bestows upon us daily wonders at which to marvel, as well.

As if conducting a symphony, God’s hand causes the stars to shine and the birds to sing. The fragrance of the sea fills the air while children laugh with profound lightheartedness.

Majestically changing seasons bring pops of color in the spring, and trees that shed leaves, like rain, in the fall. When autumn gives way to the glowing frost of winter, freshly fallen snow curls around us like a familiar blanket.

I could not draw breath or write this article without God’s hand driving my every heartbeat. I could not know beauty without this painted earth, and I could not know love for my Savior had He not loved me first.

Our God is the Grand Architect, the Master Painter, the Poet Laureate of all time and space, the Almighty, and infinitely more.

I am reminded of the fictional story of a man who ventured into the forest for a week of rest and vacation. Upon his return home, he raved about all the beauty he’d encountered in the woods. He spoke of the majesty of the trees and the amazement he felt at watching the birds.

When asked about his meditations on God, he answered, “God … no, no, no, I did not think of God. He was not there. It was just me and the forest.” Unfortunately for the man, his surface-deep reflection on God’s creation failed to give credit to the Creator Himself.

With so much muddy water and distraction, many of us don’t have time to think, let alone contemplate essential truths that, if given more than a series of moments, would bring us great joy.

The beauty of joy is that it’s disentangled from temporary or situational circumstances. Joy is Jesus. It is the Lord who gives us a steady well of peace in knowing that He will hold us for eternity and bless us with unknown wonders along the way.

Our hearts may break, and our sorrows may be laid bare, but if we steady our eyes on the Lord, He will make a path through the wilderness, lead us through unknown storms, and place brilliant blessings along our paths as we make our way through the world.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:8. Its directive is clear when it states,

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is instructing us to peel away the grime and pessimism that, without our vigilance, attaches itself to our every outlook.

We must take the time to reflect not only upon the handiwork of our Lord, but also on the nature of God Himself. It would give our souls space to breathe and allow us to peer into magnificence itself.

What an amazing God we have! His kindness extends across space and time to reach into our hearts and fill them with joy. This Thanksgiving, whether it’s time with family, a gentle breeze, a warm bed, or freshly fallen snow, let’s allow our minds to settle on the landings of rare beauty propped up by God’s magnificence.