Counting It All Joy
By Melodie Griffin
“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV)
The private dining area of the restaurant was littered with baby carriers and all things infant. This was the day I had been dreading all week – the first gathering of my childbirth class since our babies had been born.
Earlier that morning, I stood in front of the mirror, practicing my smiles and reactions, knowing that it would be difficult to face the reality with my own eyes that my baby was quite different. I loved my baby beyond words, but was still grappling with the raw emotions that come from a special needs diagnosis.
At the lunch date, we all oohed and aahed over the new little creations, so fresh with pink, fragrant skin. The high pitched sounds and baby talk that filled the room delighted the newborns and they all broke out into smiles at various points during our gathering. Everyone’s baby was smiling back at them…except mine. My beautiful little boy just laid there, void of expression. I felt so incredibly different, so isolated, and immensely cheated.
Why couldn’t my baby smile like that? Why did I have to be the one who had the different baby? Will my child ever smile back at me? Will I ever feel like smiling again?
While the depth of sadness and loss rocked my world that day, it didn’t take my God by surprise. In fact, in the years to come, it slowly dawned on me that God knew before the foundation of the world that my first child would be born with Down syndrome. God was quietly going before me, preparing me at every turn for what would lie ahead – filling my emotional pockets with strength and courage that I would need as I went along.
Oh, I needed strength, and it wasn’t just going to come from morsels of chocolate wrapped in happy, little tin foil. The Old Testament prophet, Nehemiah, tells us where this life line of strength comes from, and it’s quite an unexpected source. You see, the JOY of the Lord is my strength. Joy? How does one have joy in the midst of breath-taking, knee-buckling circumstances?
It wasn’t an overnight paradigm shift for me, by any stretch! But with the passing days, months, and years, I have asked God to fill me with His joy that comes best from a heart of gratitude. God somehow gives me that daily portion of joy as I thank Him for each specific way He blesses me.
Many months flipped over on my calendar following that hard lunch date before my little guy produced the most Mommy-thrilling smile you could imagine. What joy! I danced, squealed, and yes – smiled back at him.
Lord, You see our journey as we encounter challenges. The days can be exhaustingly long, yet You give us everything we need to be successful in our tasks. Thank You for offering Your extravagant joy to us as our source of strength. Help us to remember this joy when we need it most.
Copyright © 2011 Melodie Griffin. Used by permission.
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A busy mom of three, Melodie is a freelance writer, recording artist, popular speaker and worship leader for events across the country. Melodie and her husband reside in South Carolina with their children, the oldest of which has Down syndrome. For more information, visit www.melodiegriffin.com.
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