I met Sharon shortly after I started Broken but Priceless Ministries. After speaking at a church, one of Sharon’s friends contacted me to see if I would go visit Sharon. She had heard me speak and wanted Sharon to meet me; she thought I could encourage Sharon, who was suffering from ALS. Yet it turned out that Sharon was the one who encouraged me and forever changed the way I view my illness.
couldn’t move any body part below her neck. She couldn’t even eat without choking. Her life depended on having someone do everything for her. She was a prisoner trapped within the confines of her body. If ever there was a person who had the right to be angry and bitter, it was Sharon. Yet she was one of the most joyful people I have ever met. I spent two hours with Sharon, and she spent the entire time praising God.
I left Sharon’s home deeply touched and profoundly changed. To know that she was going to die because her muscles and lungs would stop working, yet be able to continually praise God because He was with her in her pain and suffering was mind-boggling. Sharon had learned how to experience joy in a way I didn’t know was even possible, and she shared her joy with me. Although I went to Sharon’s house hoping to be a blessing, I was the one who was blessed. By sharing her joy with me, Sharon gave me one of the best gifts I have ever received.
In Philippians 2:17-18, Paul talks about one of the greatest gifts we can ever give to someone – our joy. In the beginning of verse seventeen, Paul talks about “being poured out as a drink offering.” It’s
important to remember that Paul is writing the book of Philippians from prison. When he talks about being poured out, he’s saying that he may die in prison, which is why it’s so amazing he is able to say, “I rejoice and share my joy with you all.”
Curious as to what this statement means, I decided to study this phrase in the original Greek language. Literally, it means “to rejoice and be glad with others.” In context, it says that we can be joyful and share our joy with those who aren’t. However, it also suggests that we can be bitter and share our bitterness with others. The words Paul chose to use in this passage is comparable to giving someone a gift. Sharing joy or bitterness is the difference between giving someone the best present he’s ever received or giving him the worst present he’s ever received. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather give a wonderful present to my family and friends rather than a horrible present. Yet far too often, those of us living with a chronic illness choose to pout and complain about our situation rather than be joyful. Although it’s not our intention to share our negative feelings with others, that is what usually happens. Be it positive or negative, an attitude has the tendency to affect those around it.
After my meeting with Sharon, I learned an important truth – joy is a choice I must make daily. A chronic illness includes the word chronic in the title for a reason. It means there is no healing for the disease, which means I will daily be exposed to pain, suffering, and fatigue. It’s easy to become a negative person who complains to anyone who will listen, but this benefits no one. Joy on the other hand is a gift we can choose to give to all we encounter; it’s the perfect gift because it blesses and encourages others.
So what kind of gift are you sharing with others? Are you handing out anger, bitterness, and discontent, or are you giving the perfect gift, the gift of joy?
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7
(c) Sepetember 23, 2012