There is a man I see nearly every weekend at my church. He is in a wheelchair. The extent of his physical limitations I surely don’t know. The wheelchair states the obvious. He can’t walk. He also has limited movement of his upper body. This I notice. These limitations are obvious even to me, a complete stranger. There is something else I, a complete stranger, notice about this man… every weekend. His uncontainable joy. It spills out of him. You can’t help but sense it even when you are just passing by. The wheelchair is just part of his circumstances, but it’s not holding his joy captive. I wonder if he would know such joy if he were standing on two legs, having never known this physical bondage. Another question on the long list of things I ask God someday.
This weekend, I stood, worshipping our God as I sang, “God you reign, God you reign, forever and ever… God you reign.” And there he was. I couldn’t help but notice him, his back to me, the wheels of his chair locked tight. And with his restricted arm motions, his fists were still noticeably pumping with every resounding beat of the chorus… “God you reign!” Lifted as high as he could get them, stretching to his Maker, proclaiming His sovereignty, even in these circumstances. I would love to hear his story. I’m sure it wasn’t always this way. There were probably plenty of days when those fists pumped in anger asking the unanswerable question, “Why?” before resting in the unmistakable “Who”.
And isn’t that just it? In these moments when something is taken, when our lives are broken apart, God is closer than ever (Psalm 34:18). And, He waits patiently as we scream in rage or run in fear or hide in misery. He lets us wrestle our emotions to discover the infallible Truth: He is real and sovereign, He is gentle and faithful, His ways are best, He loves us when we feel unlovable, and He WILL trade our sorrow for His joy… we must only stand still and let Him fight (Exodus 14:14).
I wonder how many times I’ve allowed my circumstances to hold my joy captive. Shouldn’t my joy be captivating? But, how many times have I chosen something other than joy? How many times have I chosen misery by dwelling on what is seen instead of what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). How many times have I lost focus on the Who because I was dead set on answering the “why”?
Lord, may I always rest in Who when the “Why’s” resound all around me. May this be my song no matter what circumstances I feel caught in or trapped by or focused on… "God you reign. Forever and ever". When the waves are deafening just the same as when they are quiet, may I choose joy. May my fists pump toward Heaven in all circumstances, celebrating the victory at Calvary that assures me one day, I can ask You all my “why’s” and know I'll fall in love with You all over again as I listen to the ways You pruned me and grew me and tested me and protected me and how it added color and richness to this tapestry you are weaving with joy stitched straight through for your eternal glory.
Have you seen this? Count the gifts and discover joy. A dare to choose joy, everyday.