Nick Vujicic stood atop a table and faced a room full of mesmerized high school students.
Some of them wept silently as they listened to this man who was born with no arms or legs proclaim joyfully, “I love life.”1
If there is anyone who would seem to have a good reason to be joyless, it would be Nick. And yet he has chosen to embrace his life and the possibilities it offers as well as the gifts hidden in his suffering.
I think people like Nick are so compelling to us because we all want to know the secret of joy like his — joy that doesn’t depend on physical perfection or life following some specific formula for success. We long for this because deep down we know that our journey throughout this life is fragile... inherently without guarantee. People like Nick show us that joy doesn’t need to be tied to circumstances. They hold out the possibility of unshakeable joy that transcends suffering. For many of us, joy is at a very low simmer. Even small disappointments — a canceled lunch date with a friend, an unexpectedly high bill, finding the last piece of pie gone — can rob us of whatever joy we have.
What makes people like Nick different?
I believe part of the secret to Nick’s kind of resilient joy is to consider life, all of life, as a gift. Every single day.
We can choose to be thankful for the gift of life no matter how difficult our path is because we are assured that God is with us in the middle of it and that He continues to bring blessings to our lives, even in our most painful moments.
I love this quote by Rowan Williams as he reflected on Jesus’ final night before the cross: “When Jesus gives thanks at that moment before the breaking and spilling, before the wounds and the blood, it is as if He is connecting the darkest places of human experience with God the Giver; as if He is saying that even in these dark places God continues to give, and therefore we must continue to give thanks.”2
Take some time today to reflect on a difficult season in which it wasn’t easy for you to experience joy. What gifts was God still giving you? Perhaps it was the comfort of His presence or a powerful truth He revealed to you during that time. Grab a pen and a journal, and list any gifts that come to mind. Then spend some time thanking and praising God for His faithfulness, rejoicing that He never stops giving to us, even when our way is marked with sorrow.
Because God is good, we can worship Him always.
Five Minutes in the Word
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. — James 1:17-18 ESV
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
— Psalm 103:1-5 ESV
There was nothing attractive about Him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at Him and people turned away. We looked down on Him, thought He was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains He carried — our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. — Isaiah 53:2–5 The Message
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. — Colossians 3:15