“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
Remember the old Wendy’s commercial where a crotchety elderly woman held up her hamburger to the camera and forthrightly asked, “Where’s the beef?” This week we lit anew the candle of joy. And lately we may be tempted to ask, “Where’s the Joy?” Whether it’s world events or personal struggles, joy may seem to be a superfluous attribute right now.
It was my privilege to know Sue, a woman who had a two-decade long struggle with ALS. Sue was a community leader, a businesswoman active in many causes who raised two children with her dedicated husband. She was the epitome of success. Then ALS struck. She became physically weaker over time. When I met her, she was confined to her bed, unable to move on her own. She communicated by using a computer screen which she could control with her eyes to choose the words she wanted to say.
Yet Sue was one of the most joyful people I have known. She welcomed me always with genuine gratitude, asked about my family, wanted to hear Scripture read, told me about what was happening with her kids, bragged on her husband, and shone out joy from her eyes. She kept a candy jar chock full of large-size chocolate bars and passed them out indiscriminately, whether it was to her pastor or to the repair man coming to service the air conditioner.
One very special evening, it was my privilege to perform a wedding for her son and his bride right there in her room. They wanted her to be able to be there, and this was the only way, to bring the wedding to Sue. She beamed brighter than I’d ever seen that night. But no matter the day or night, Sue’s joy was complete. I asked her how she did this, kept joy, and she selected the word one letter at a time from her screen. As she looked at the letter, then blinked on it to select it, her answer appeared on the screen, one letter at a time: “J-E-S-U-S.”
“In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my Savior,” Mary sings. This is a joy that looks not to what is happening, but to who is coming to be with us. Rejoice today!