That Our Joy May be Full…

January 12, 2012

Hello, all. Thanks to each of you for reading our blog and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We have been blessed tremendously by all of the support! Thank also for your comments-I read and cherish each one of them, but will probably not ever have enough time to respond to them. So just know I love getting them!

I wanted to share a bit of what the Lord has been teaching Hayden and me recently (and, not coincidentally, I’m sure, it seems like everyone else in my family, as well). I’m going to quote an excerpt from John Piper’s “What Jesus Demands from the World”, the book we’ve been studying in our small group Bible study, about the joy Christ gives us…

Demand #10, Rejoice and Leap for Joy, p86-87

“What astonishes us most immediately when Jesus says ‘Rejoice…and leap for joy’ is that he is saying it precisely in the context of pain. ‘Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy’ (Luke 6:22-23). When Jesus demands that we rejoice, he has not forgotten the kind of world we live in. It is filled with suffering. And he promises that some of that suffering will fall on us as his disciples. ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons…and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake’ (Luke 21:12, 16-17)…’If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (John 15:20).

Jesus had not forgotten that. In fact, he demands that we follow him in that painful path of love. Therefore, the joy he demands now is not chipper. It is not joy-lite. It is not superficial or marked with levity. This is the mistake of too many people and too many churches. They think that Jesus’ demand for joy is a demand to tell jokes or weave slapstick into Christian corporate life. I don’t smell the Jerusalem-bound Jesus in that atmosphere. Something has gone wrong.

What’s wrong is that the aroma of suffering is missing. For Jesus the demand for joy is a way to live with suffering and to outlast suffering. Therefore, this joy is serious. It’s the kind you fight for by cutting of your hand (Matt. 5:30) and selling your possessions (Matt. 13:44) and carrying your cross with Jesus to Calvary (Matt. 10:38-39). It has scars. It sings happy songs with tears. It remembers the dark hours and knows that more are coming. The road to heaven is a hard road, but it is not joyless.”

It is incredible that Christ died-gave his life-to give us his joy…the very same joy that drove him to endure the cross for our sin. “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). I love how Piper describes this type of joy as “sing[ing] happy songs with tears.” It’s so relevant to me, because I have actually sung happy songs with tears. It is this type of joy that gives me the love, energy, and affection to care for my children even when my heart is heavy. It’s this type of joy that allows me to break it down to the Wiggles, even when I’ve just been crying out to God for mary’s healing. I know without doubt that it is only Jesus who provides me (and Hayden) with this life-giving joy.

I wouldn’t have this without the sacrifice he made for me (the same sacrifice he also made for you). He gave his life for me, for my eternal joy and hope–not just for the future, but for today, regardless of my circumstances.  This is so much different than our happiness. I’m not happy about mary’s condition; I don’t understand why it’s my baby, or why God chose me to be her mom (but I am glad that he did)…But I can trust in the one who loves me and loves her, and who gave himself up for our sake. I can trust him with my heart…

We continue to ask God daily to heal Mary completely. We know he hears us and loves us, and we’ll trust him no matter what his answer is! I have my last ultrasound January 31, and would love for all of you to be praying with us for a miracle! Thank you so much!

With all of our love,

the Stagg’s

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4 Responses to “That Our Joy May be Full…”

  1. Kristin said

    Amanda, I pray daily for your sweet family. I pray he holds you all during this time. I know it’s a rough, rocky road that you tread. And you tread it on your knees in prayer. He has great plans for you guys, and though we want to understand the whys, sometimes that just doesn’t happen until much later. Take comfort in knowing nothing is without purpose. Love you guys.

  2. Kathy Law said

    Thanks so much, Amanda, for your testimony of trusting the Lord in the midst of pain. It’s a strong encouragement to me to see the way you and Hayden are responding to something that any parent knows is very difficult. Praying for y’all.

  3. Camille Holland Tipps said

    I’ve known a LOT of pain. I’ve cried out to God many times. I understand somewhat what you are going through. You and Mary and your family will be in my prayers. There are many questions I will ask the Lord when I get to heaven. About my pain. For now I have to trust Him, as you do, that His decisions, while often so hard to understand, are what is best for our lives. I know God is using this situation for good. For you and many others who see your faith in action. To God be the glory! My heart hurts for you, and yet it also is thankful to see one of His persevering in the face of trials. Bless you honey. You’ve been a wonderful influence in my life, as I’m sure you are now in others lives. If there is anyway I can help, please let me know. All my love, Camille

  4. Melissa Fulcher said

    Amanda, thank you so much for this entry. I love hearing your heart and your faith in our Savior. Thank you for the encouragement.

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