Thursday, October 24, 2013

An abiding joy

[Written by my dad in August 2004:]

There is little that shines a bright ray of supernatural light quite like a display of joy in the middle of difficulty or dark circumstances. The average person can be joyful when things go well, as planned, or better than expected. But there’s something extraordinary - maybe divine - about someone who is joyful when life deals out stress, pain, or unfortunate circumstances. This is why the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church: “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Abiding joy is a powerful witness of God’s power in a person’s life. The Old Testament prophet Habbakuk wrote about the source of this joy:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
- Habakkuk 3:17-19

Perhaps this is seen most clearly in the 19-century hymn-writer Francis Jane “Fanny” Crosby. She was blind from infancy, yet wrote over 9000 hymns plus 1000 secular poems and songs, including “Blessed Assurance,” and “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.” As one reads Fanny’s biography, it is clear that the source of her ministry was a deep, abiding joy, which was found in something beyond circumstances. This joy is evident in her first poem, written when she was eight years old:

O what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy, That other people don't.
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't!

This joy despite circumstances is also displayed in Hannah’s countenance. Unless she’s sick, in pain, or sleeping, she has a quick, contagious smile and a joyful sound in her voice. Sue and I often hear her making her “joy sound” (sort of a laughter) when in her bed alone at night. Even when she’s not feeling well, she will smile that joyful, “I’m glad to see you” smile. Granted - Hannah is most likely not fully aware of her condition. Hannah probably doesn’t realize who she is and what her situation is. She probably has not consciously chosen to be joyful despite her difficulties. If you quote Habakkuk 3:17-19 to Hannah, she probably won’t understand what you’re saying. Nevertheless, her joy shines a light to others.

A troubled teenager once met Hannah, caught her smile, and said, “Wow - I think I have problems. Here’s Hannah, with all her problems, and she’s happy. Wow.” That’s the point. That teenager was given some perspective that day. That’s the effect of an abiding joy. That’s the effect of Hannah’s Light.


  1. Honestly, it has never failed to amaze me how people with the most problems are often the most joyful, and their happiness in the face of great obstacles touches the lives of many. This was a really touching post. Quite often when I'm in a bad mood and inclined to complain about my problems, I think about Hannah and how joyful you say she is despite her problems, and it really helps to put things in perspective for me. So thank you for posting this, and Hannah and all of your family are in my prayers.:)

    In Christ,

    1. Wow...that means a lot to me. Thanks so much. That is Hannah fulfilling her purpose in this world, and she does the same for me often. Thank you <3