So I woke up this morning and wondered, What should the Five Minute Friday word be for this week?
Then I opened my email inbox and found a message from Andrew Budek-Schmeisser, long-time faithful member of the FMF community.
If you own the Five Minute Friday book, you’ll know that Susan Shipe dedicated the book to Andrew — a daily fighter and warrior against the ugly, horrific ravages of terminal cancer.
This morning Andrew shared a post he wrote in advance for this week’s Five Minute Friday linkup. He didn’t know the word yet — I hadn’t even chosen it yet — but his post was titled, Count it all joy.
I decided then and there that I had to share it with you here.
So — because of Andrew and the words he shared — this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:
And yes, I know we already wrote on JOY in October 2015 and Lisa-Jo used it a couple of times when she served as FMF host … and yes, I know the word three weeks ago was ENJOY … and yes, I know I’ve been sharing a lot of guest posts lately — but you know what? Sometimes we need to bend the man-made “rules” and follow where the Spirit leads, amen?
Week after week, Andrew is teaching us how to die well.
The following words, written by a man writhing on his death bed, are no exception. Let’s lean in, listen close, and learn from him, shall we?
Without further ado, here’s Andrew:
For a long time, I was really irritated with James (as in the New Testament Epistle) and his ‘count it all joy’ to be found in James 1:2.
Trade places with me, dude, and we’ll see how long you talk about joy.
But he was right, and I was quite wrong. It’s not that pain and the small and daily humiliations of illness are in anyway pleasurable. Only a madman or a masochist could say that. I’m not the latter. (Jury’s still out on the first.)
And neither is the joy based in the promise of Heaven. Certainly that’s an attractive future, but it can seem a long way away when you pass the night screaming in pain. That was last night, as I write this; I do hope tonight will be better.
So where’s the beef? Oh, sorry. Where’s the joy?
Simple. The joy is in the process of showing up.
Joy is in the intention of joy; it’s found in the resolve, however shaky, that overcomes the pain to say that life’s still good and still worth living.
Joy is found in the decision to reach out and offer encouragement to someone who’s hurting because I am hurting, too.
Joy is found in living the example of hope when all hope’s rationally gone, even if no one is looking.
Joy is found in the realization that there is purpose to my pain and that I am the vital link to fulfill that purpose. Quite a responsibility!
Joy is found in the moments I would have shrugged off in years past but that I now see as treasures beyond price. God did not intend our moments to be wasted.
And most important…well,to me…joy is found in what I can give, because I now understand that the gift of pain is the vital other side of compassion.
May the joy of the Lord be your strength, brother.
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