“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
–James 1-2 nlt
I am sad to report that my guide dog Ansel, who brought a lot of happiness into our lives, passed away a few weeks ago. I would like to tell you a little bit about him.
Ansel was no ordinary dog. He was a good friend and a dilligent service animal. I’m a hospital chaplain, and Ansel knew his way around my workplace like the back of his paw. In fact, I used to call him my chaplain’s assistant. He helped me out when I was called out to see patients, and he led my wife and I to many different rooms.
But Ansel was not just my assistant. He was my PR agent as well. The nurses all loved him, and one of the social workers even organized a birthday party in his honor.
One day, Ansel guided me into the ICU. He was supposed to wait for me at the nurses’ station while I visited patients’ rooms. Ansel was usually quiet and obedient, but he picked that day to run up and down the halls. Fortunately, there were very few patients outside their rooms, but I don’t mind telling you that I almost had a heart attack. In the end, the nurses just thought it was funny, and Ansel endeared himself to some more people.
Ansel wore many different hats at home, but I think his two favorite things to do were eating and sleeping. He was always happy and he loved to play, but he was the official greeter whenever company came. He took his job very seriously, and he almost knocked down a few people in his exuberance.
While I won’t hesitate to admit that there is great sadness in our household, I can still write about rejoicing in Christ.
“But Tim,” you might say, “that sounds like a contradiction.” That might appear to be a valid argument. But looking at joy from a biblical standpoint tells me that it is not the same thing as the happiness which Ansel brought into our lives. The joy he brought was dependent upon his presence, while joy in Christ is found in our relationship with a loving God, who helps us soar above our everyday circumstances.
While we all seek the kind of happiness which I am writing about, putting it above everything else is like riding a broken elevator. When you are experiencing pleasure, the elevator goes up to the top right away. But when you experience pain, it crashes down to the bottom with a thud. The elevator of life might have gone down to the first floor for my wife and I, but pain didn’t lower it all the way to the basement.
I know that God wants us all to be happy, but since life has a way of bringing trials, it is even more imperative that we find real joy in Christ.
Finding joy in Christ brings more stability to our lives. True joy also extends the hands of peace and refreshment to others.
You may be asking, “How can I find this joy? It seems like I’m living on a nonstop roller coaster.”
While I don’t pretend to know what you are going through, the way to apply God’s truth of joy in upsetting times, can only be found by giving Him first priority in your life. Spend time in His Word daily, and you will find that it’s like a compass which guides you through the shadows and pain of life. it brings new peace and rest as you navigate tough waters. I can rejoice as I turn the Bible’s pages, and I know that you can find that joy as well.
God’s Word tells me that whatever the problem, He is in control. This joy, in turn, provides strength and hope, and I can tell you from personal experience that as I search the scriptures in darkness, I find the eternal light of joy.
So today, instead of walking in the darkness of despair, God invites you to find your own joy, as you put your trust in Him.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.