Anna was a joyful person, and she knew how to enjoy her life. She had a jolly laugh, even from her small room in the nursing home she moved to after losing her husband. Each Christmas Eve she would sit in the middle of her large family as they gathered to listen to her sing Christmas carols in German, beaming and looking around at the children running through the room and stopping to listen to the foreign words. She lived to age ninety-three.
Her story was like that of many other women from her world. She immigrated to America from Luxembourg in her early twenties–speaking only German. She married a German-born man and they began raising their family in the early 1900’s. She would give birth to 11 children, all but the first delivered at home–often alone. She lost one just thirteen minutes after birth, and another at age 2 from Diphtheria. The family journal said that her child only suffered four days… this seemed the one blessing in their great loss. Her other nine children would all live and raise families of their own.
Life was filled with hard work. Little money caused her oldest to leave school after 6th grade and begin working as a “water boy” for the local power company to help support his siblings. She lost her husband fairly early in life, leading to that move away from the only home she had known for 50 years. But laughter moved there with her, and greeted those who came to call for the occasional visit. Asked by those visitors how she was feeling, she would laugh and so “Oh…how old people feel…”
If Anna had waited for life to be easier, or sorrow-free, those happy carols and that deep laugh would not have strengthened her or brought joy to others. She would not have enjoyed her life, or raised healthy children. But she knew the secret to an enjoyable life: living in the present, enjoying those around her, and finding God’s blessings even in sorrow and pain.
How do we find this joy and be a blessing to others when we face life’s hardships and sorrows? When Jesus walked among men, He gave us the answer: John 10:10 Amplified Bible (AMP) 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows). (biblegateway.com)
It’s true. We don’t have to wait for heaven to enjoy the present. Though sorrow and loss will come to each of us in one form or another, we truly can learn to find the blessings and enjoy where we are in life. There will be times when pain or grief will shadow the blessings, and even God doesn’t expect us to never be sorrowful. But how often do we think “I will be happy when…” ” When I get a new job I will be happy, if I have more money I can be happy, if my children obey better, then I’ll be happy.” This belief sets us up for a very unhappy life.
Jesus paid the ultimate price–His life– for us to enjoy the life we’ve been given. Believe His Words in John, and find the blessings in today. They may be small and your problems big, but joy is found in seeing the good God has brought to our lives.