By: Sister Marie Estelle, OCD

Is Joy possible? Really possible? The deep-down, soul-filling kind? Can it be found even in the “ugly-beautiful” as one author has put it?

As we move into the season, we’ll all be surrounded by Jingle Bells and lots of food. The sound of ‘Joy to the World’ will be heard and yet…in the face of difficulties (cancer, miscarriages, violence, ruptured relationships, emotional breakdowns, etc to name only a few) joy can seem eclipsed.

As Christians, we must say yes- but we are talking about more than clichés or “positive thinking”(even though that is a very important part of the renewing of our minds)- true joy is being transformed ever more deeply in and through our relationship with Jesus.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I attended our city’s annual prayer breakfast. I left this ‘secular’ event totally inspired. This gathering was FULL of prayer, testimonials and the name of Jesus was proclaimed numerous times. The keynote speaker, a Baptist preacher and LA Deputy sheriff, turned our gathering into a revival! He was eloquent and challenging. Another man shared how in the past year his son and wife were both diagnosed with cancer. He shared how some words from a devotional book “Jesus Calling” helped him. The book is written as if Jesus is speaking to the soul: “Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. The is why I have instructed you to give thanks in everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give me thanks (regardless of your feelings) and I give you joy (regardless of your circumstances.)”

As a close, when I hear the word ‘joy’ I think of my childhood friend whose birthday is a few days before Christmas. She was born with intellectual handicaps and her beautiful Christian parents saw through this difficulty of the circumstances for their first born baby girl. They saw her as a gift from the Lord and they named her Jaqueline Joy. May we be so transformed by our relationship with Jesus that we can experience joy, even in our difficulties. Happy Birthday, Jackie!

“Rejoice, Rejoice, O Israel, to thee shall come Emmanuel-Jesus!”