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Now is the time to reset – and it begins with our faith: Reset for a better 'normal'.

Joy in our hearts

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Stories

Caroline Illingworth shares the reminder we all need this Christmas - that God's presence brings a deep lining of joy, despite the circumstances.

Morgan Harper Nichols
Artwork by Morgan Harper Nichols - No matter what happens, her heart is lined with joy. Image credit: www.morganharpernichols.com

My laptop screensaver is a beautiful picture by a US artist called Morgan Harper Nichols. I love the vibrant colours in it, the mustard, pink and blue curves, amidst which are scrawled the words: ‘No matter what happens, her heart is lined with joy.'

It has been the reminder I have needed this year.

When smoke engulfed our coast and summer days were spent indoors.
When the GP called about my son’s test results and spoke in worried tones.
When, the day after our kids’ school fete, our city began shutting down.

It was the reminder I needed:

When we ran out of toilet paper and pasta and stared at empty shop shelves.
When our two new puppies chewed up my favourite shoes.
When we could no longer hug our friends.

It was the reminder I needed:

When stories from vulnerable communities streamed in each day from Tearfund’s partners, telling of those crushed by poverty and the pandemic.
When many we knew began losing their jobs.
When we checked the numbers every day, and our hopes waned as they rose.

Prayer room
"It was the reminder I needed when I sat in the deserted prayer room.."

It was the reminder I needed:

When we began schooling and working from home and felt like we were drowning.
When we got tired of hearing "We’re in this together".
When we said “You’re on mute” for the thirteenth time.

It was the reminder I needed:

When I sat in the deserted prayer room at the Children’s Hospital, waiting for my son to come out of an operation.
When we went into lockdown again in Melbourne, and stayed there for weeks and weeks.
When we walked the streets with half our faces covered over.

Fire
"It was the reminder I still needed... when I felt the warmth of a fire."

It was the reminder I still needed:

When we sang Happy Birthday on our family Zoom.
When I watched a funny TV show with my kids, cuddled on the couch, with all the time in the world.
When I walked in nature, heard the laugh of a friend, felt the warmth of a fire, and finally, finally, tasted the sweetness of freedom.

It is the reminder that I need this Christmas, as the scars of this year are still fresh.

It is the reminder that I always need, that we always need.

This joy is always with us. God is always with us.

He came to us in the gift of a tiny baby, and he stays with us, like a mother waiting for her child in an empty prayer room at a hospital.

God – and the deep lining of joy his presence brings – is there, in the midst of the world’s despair, grief, sorrow and beauty.

This Christmas, no matter what the season brings, may your heart be lined with God’s joy.

ACTION: GIVE JOY
Caroline and her family love to share gifts from Tearfund’s Useful Gifts Catalogue with their friends and family at Christmas!

You can do the same! Buy a Useful Gift and bring God’s joy to the world at a time when we need it most.

Choose from life-giving gifts like Good Food, Safe Water and Healthy Mums and Babies.

Shop online www.usefulgifts.org or call us on 1800 244 986

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