Grace twirled her hair nervously as she walked up to Ms. Evie. Evie looked the same as she did months ago--only now she was in a wheelchair.
Evie looked up with a bright smile when she saw Grace. "How is it that you've grown even taller in just a few months?" Evie's green eyes sparkled and she squeezed Grace's hand.
"Hi, Ms. Evie. I'm sorry about your car accident. My parents said you won't walk again."
Evie nodded. "Unless God performs a miracle, I don't think I will."
"But--doesn't that make you angry?" asked Grace. "You're in the middle of going to college and you had so many plans interrupted. But it's weird, you don't seem angry. You look--happy!" Grace clapped her hand over her mouth. "I shouldn't have said all that."
Ms. Evie's laughter sounded like tinkling bells. "It's okay, Grace! It's refreshing to hear some honesty. Let me tell you a secret." Evie leaned forward. "I'm not happy."
"What?" Grace's eyes widened.
"I'll explain. I'm not happy about my situation, but I do have joy."
"What's the difference? I thought they were kind of the same thing," Grace mused.
"Good question! Happiness depends on our circumstances, which can change from day to hour to minute. But true joy comes from knowing Jesus. Jesus joy is my secret weapon."
Grace sighed. "It's not always easy to be joyful."
Evie shook her head. "It's not. For the first few weeks, I was mad at God, asking Him why this happened. I still feel sad about what I've lost, but I've been thinking about what Hebrews 12:2 says about fixing our eyes on Jesus, who endured the cross so we could have the joy of knowing Him. Jesus loved us enough to make the ultimate sacrifice. The joy set before Him was knowing that we would belong to Him forever when we trust Him to save us. Knowing He's always with me and that He promises to give me a new, perfect body one day fills me with joy."
"I guess I'd never thought of it like that," said Grace. "I have noticed that spending time with Jesus lifts me up when I'm feeling sad. When I read my Bible and sing praise songs, it just makes me feel more--"
"Joyful?" Evie interjected.
"Sounds like you've got Jesus joy too, girl!"
–Savannah ColemanHOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you ever thought about the difference between joy and happiness? Is there a person in your life who you could see had the joy of Jesus in them despite tough circumstances they were going through? Do you have the joy of Jesus in you to give you strength when hard times come? God promises that when we belong to Him, His joy will be in us and our joy will be full (John 15:11). Spend time in His presence and soak up the joy He offers you!
TODAY'S KEY VERSE: Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
For the joy set before [Jesus] he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV)