I have several regrets from my college days.

One is choosing to audit the book of Job instead of taking it for credit..without even telling my dad I changed my schedule. (I’m not sure he would have approved of paying for something that wasn’t even going to be on my transcript, but I’m thankful he let me stay in it after he received the updated school bill.)

Another regret, among several, is not taking Greek.

Words fascinate me, and I think I would have lost myself in this class, and who knows where it would have led me in life. But, for whatever reason, I never even considered Greek class as an option…as if it were a class for boys who want to be preachers and nothing more. I remember watching Tim’s key chain of Greek root words grow over the two years he had the class; and I am pretty sure that if I climbed into the attic, I would find that key chain in a box…now I have something to do on the first snow day this winter. Smile

For today, though, an online search had to be enough for my study of the word “joy,” and I am so excited about what I learned!!

“Joy” in Greek is “Chara.” One commentary translated this to mean “surprise gift.”

Paul uses this root word in another word, “Charis,” which is translated “grace.” I love the thought that grace is rooted in joy!!!

I also learned that if you add the prefix “eu” to “chara,” you have the word “eucharist,” which means “thanksgiving!”

Joy, grace, and thanksgiving!

Three words that are all rooted in the idea of a “surprise gift!”

There are many verses in the Old and New Testament that contain the word “joy,” but there’s a verse in the book of James that is standing out in my mind because it seems so contradictory to the things I’ve learned about the definition of “joy” this morning.

Read this verse from James 1:2-3 when I replace the word “joy” with the words “surprise gift.”

Count it “a surprise gift,” my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t normally look at trials as surprise gifts.

I’ve been challenged this morning to look at all of the things in my life that seem “difficult” right now through a different lens. I want to see those places that seem to stretch me uncomfortably as gifts from God who longs to teach me to be steadfast, lacking nothing.

Today, what can you look at through a different lens?

When I think of losing two children, it is hard to use this lens. However, when I sit back and close my eyes and realize that out of all of my kids, I KNOW FOR SURE where Nick and Adrienne are…………………

in the presence of God

I am able to smile, knowing that they couldn’t be safer or more loved!!!!

As you think about the parts of your life that seem difficult at this time, try to focus on the idea that they may be “surprise gifts” in your life. When you do, I hope that you will feel the grace of God and overflow with thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!