The Secret to Finding Joy

by | Dec 6, 2022 | Christmas, Grief, Joy, Spiritual Growth, Trials

I hate unexpected, painful events, don’t you? When they turn our world upside down, self-pity and resentment quickly become our silent companions.

That happened to me. I resented the impossibility I faced. How could that be? With so many medical advances, no one could find a cure for the retinal disease that robbed my eyesight.

My blindness also tried to rob my determination. But instead, I relied on what I still had. For years, my sense of touch and hearing compensated in order for me to complete the to-do list for the house, including the care of my three sons.

Christmas Preparations

And at the top of that list was the Christmas preparation. One by one, I pulled the bins off the shelves I’d stored the previous Christmas.

The aroma of sugar cookies in the oven reminded me of the finger I burned as I placed the cookie sheet on the rack. But burns, bumps on my forehead and on my shin had become a way of life for me.

I refused to let those minor injuries slow me down. With my fingertips, I identified each piece of the Nativity scene and placed it at the center of the room. I lined up the items which I had memorized through the years—red and green candles, musical boxes with winter scenes, and bright red poinsettias with green garland.

Next, I lifted three stockings from a box, and hung them on marked places above the fireplace. Each was embroidered with our sons’ names. I ran my fingers over the letters. One read Jason, the other, Jeff, and the least number of letters spelled Joe.

Once Jason’s and Jeff’s were hung, with tears burning my eyes, I clutched Joe’s against my chest.

The empty stocking seared my heart. It had been several years since the Lord called Joe home. Many years that Joe’s absence had left an emptiness we could almost touch. And several Christmases that God’s grace wiped away portions of the grief that ached in our broken hearts.

Healing began.

But one evening, the real healing came like the warm steam from a cup of mint tea—soft and sweet.

It came in a memory: Years ago, when our three sons, including Joe, were young, I still had full sight. I could still see the sparkling lights and could easily examine the details of each ornament dangling from tree branches.

Taking in all the details, I rushed around, trying to achieve perfection, I fretted until I became crabby. As a result, little things tended to make me crazy.

One night, while everyone was in bed, I stayed up still working on tasks to be done. One was to attempt to fix a light strand that refused to shine. One burned-out bulb was the culprit. Annoyed at the glitch, I fussed. I rearranged, and then plugged and unplugged. Frustration won. In defeat, I plopped on the couch in front of the Christmas tree.

The answer was the star.

In the silence of night, I looked up and there it was, the star atop the tree, shining, glowing, lighting the room.

I sighed with slight shame. I’d done the same with light bulbs that burned in my life—from broken relationships, disappointments, setbacks, failed plans and even deep heartache. But in all that mess, I dismissed and overlooked the one who lights the way through the darkest moments.

Trying to fix the strands of my life’s issues, I missed the star—Christ the Lord, who gave significance to my life, peace in my heart and joy for my days.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16 NIV)

When that void in our heart aches to be filled, it’s the star of comfort that makes it whole. When bitter sorrow robs the spirit of Christmas, it’s the star of love that whispers joy. When a health diagnosis shakes our world, it’s the star of reassurance that shines the certainty of new tomorrows.

And even if virus, financial setbacks, unemployment, sadness or depression invade our lives, it’s the star that shines with God’s message: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8NIV).

When joy gets buried under the pile of trials, the secret to bring it back is remembering. Recalling that no matter what burns out in our lives, The Star is what changes all. Jesus, the “Morning Star” dispels our darkness, dries our tears, and repairs strands we cannot fix.

From my heart to yours…

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you choose to see beyond the troubles, beyond the setbacks and beyond the uncertainty. Instead, allow His faithfulness to shine in the darkness, to speak to you and remind you of His presence at this very moment.

Janet Eckles


The Secret to Finding Joy