“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Caroline Joy Wilson was born late one evening in March, 2000 alongside her identical twin Anna Grace Wilson. They were born severely immature because Caroline Joy had not fully developed. She was not expected to live and would pass only a couple of hours later.
I remember the doctor putting a baby beanie on Caroline Joy’s head because a portion of her brain was exposed. I remember her being peaceful. I remember being coaxed out of the room by my older siblings. As I looked back, I saw the doctor lean over my stepmother holding Caroline Joy and whisper something to her which made her begin crying. I think that may have been the moment she passed.
I remember a funeral a few days later. I remember that my dad gave the eulogy as he read from tear-soaked paper. I remember sitting in the back of his truck, alone, waiting for the funeral to process, holding that paper and his black Bible. That was the first time I cried. I don’t know why, but I remember thinking James 1:2-4. I remember thinking that we were supposed to count it all joy when we face trials. I remember having a deep understanding that God was in control and still loved me regardless of the pain I felt. That was a powerful moment for me.
Looking back, I think my experience was a mere sliver of what my parents went through.
Caroline Joy. That’s not a mistaken name. They knew that she would not live outside the womb, yet they named her intentionally. They named her Joy. Even though she only lived for a brief time, my parents were able to rejoice in the life she was given. They were able to turn their perspective from what was taken from them to what was given to them.
When I read James 1:2-4, I see the brother of Jesus calling us to be intentional. This Advent season you must be intentional to see that, while life may be painful, you can still deem or regard circumstances as joyful because Christ is working through those situations to make you more like Him. When we glimpse Him, and grasp that becoming more like Him is the best possible use of our lives, we will be able to rejoice.
Lord, I am so thankful and in such deep awe of the love You have for us. You have given us such reason to rejoice, even in our painful circumstances. Help me to be intentional in living a joy-filled life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.