Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
when i was planning gregg’s funeral i knew, without a doubt, what song i wanted played at the completion of the service. you know, the declaration if you will, as i walked out with the girls. while the devastation of death wrecked my heart. while the finality of his battle with that monster, aka cancer, began to sink in more & more each day was present, i knew in my heart that HIS promises are true. and i needed to hear those words. i needed those words to remind me that he is indeed the giver of immortal gladness even on the days where sin & sadness cloud the sun. november 6th, 1996 weeks before christmas i needed the dark of doubt driven away. i needed to be filled with the light of day. even if tear filled and lonely.
the scripture says that the lord inhabits the praises of his people. psalm 22.3.
inhabit: live in. occupy. dwell. settle. reside in.
so basically a sacrifice of praise. a sacrifice of choosing to praise him in the storm. to lift broken beaten down hands & hearts to him, no matter what the devastation going on around is, he comes. he dwells. he is there with us in the pain. emmanuel.
emmanuel: god with us. god with you.
with you on the normal days when the biggest stress is what too cook for dinner. usually with the luxury of a full pantry and if not, money to pay a bill at kroger. with you on your wedding day & the birth of your babies. praise him! with you on vacations and with you on thousands of good days.
with you as you leave the funeral of your once healthy husband. with you in a cancer treatment room. with you as you receive div0rce papers. with you at the graveside and while you watch the news. with you while you raise holy broken hands and wearily offer a sacrifice of praise.
last night i came home from a session. i wearily climbed in to bed and told dan how awesome our god is & how thankful i am for allowing me what is truly an honor and privilege to photograph basically strangers, quickly becoming friends, and their stories. and i get paid for it. bless. ( i have a sweet one for you coming soon. ) so i was perusing instagram ( my guilty pleasure) when i stumbled upon kara’s page. i spent an hour reading post after post. i woke early this morning & spent hours reading her story. ironically while i read this one, my latest christmas obsession rend collective’s campfire christmas Joyful Joyful played over the computer speakers. word after word after honest painful word she offers up holy broken hearted hands of praise in the storm. you know the world isn’t surprised when we’re all I LOVE JESUS on those good days. when count your joys name them one by one is easy. but what about when cancer ( or whatever crisis it is) invades organ after organ. what does I LOVE JESUS look like when you’re frail and vulnerable. i tell you what it looks like.
“I’m going to open my Bible, and I’m going to hunt down the grace, the peace, the source of what living- true living really is.
It’s not the absence of this pain, it’s not the presence of normal.
It’s the ability and strength that I covet so desperately. It’s Jesus. He is who I need.
But I also know He’s not disappointed in my wrestling, weary heart this morning. He will show me, once again, that he is enough.” kara tippetts.
did you catch that? he’s not disappointed when we wrestle. or have a weary heart. he is not disappointed–he is near. he is near to the broken hearted. he was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. oh he is with you alright. he was there. he knows the deepest grief. and did you catch the other? peace. not the absence of pain nor is it the presence of normal.
have mercy. my heart so often thinks peace is the presence of a normal day. you know the one with the biggest stress is a freakin dinner plan. whatever. how i get this wrong so often. oh friends, may we know & treasure in our hearts the gift that a normal day is. it’s a gift. and i’m not knocking ( not for a moment) the blessing him that is counting our joys…on those gifted days. don’t hear me wrong. i’m just saying that the world isn’t wowed when we’re all woop woop on the good. the world watches how someone that professes to love jesus does it when they’re wrecked. spent. broken and devastated.
so after a week of perusing pinterest & decorated homes i felt i needed to share this. who cares how my table is set if my heart is empty and without hope. what have i left you with if all i gave you was a source for bottle brush trees. i want to you to know the source of peace in the sadness. i want you to know that if your heart is heavy and nary a bough of holly is decked. if your chrismtas will be spent grieving loss, he is with you. when you’re joyful joyful adoration of him is from a broken heart, he is with you. with you. emmanuel. our god is still with us.
many of you are probably already familiar with kara, if not, here are a few links for you. i promise you won’t leave “meeting” her without being changed.
kara’s book, the hardest peace