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Day 10: Joy to Be Found

Advent Blog Headers 2023 (11)

Editor’s Note: For day 10 of our Advent series,  “The Day of Joy Drew Near,”  Susan Sarkissian, a newly-commissioned missioner, recounts a season in her life when God helped her experience genuine joy.

Today is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. There is great joy to be had in recognizing this incredibly humble and loving gift from God. So, if it suits you, stop reading this article now. Instead, get on your knees and thank Jesus for His incarnation, for His life and teachings, and for His love and mercy. All praise and glory to God.

If you are compelled to read on, then I will share with you that joy was a word missing in my vocabulary since the early 2000’s. Christmas day was in fact, a day I dreaded. I wondered where my joy had gone. I did have it at one time, but no more. In the years prior to COVID, I had often prayed to God asking him to show me joy. I was long a widow, and worked in a profession in which I struggled to find purpose. My soul felt empty. Then, the pandemic hit. In the silence that life became, I heard God. It was a transformative moment, and I realized that despite my decades long abandonment of my faith, God still called to me. Though undeserved, my Father still loved me. For the first time in over twenty years, I felt tremendous joy. 

This grace from the Holy Spirit remains with me, and serves as a wellspring from which I draw when life is most challenging. I don’t need to feel happy to feel joy. I only need to think of our precious Lord, and this most loving gift of Himself, and joy is there. I am no longer consumed to find purpose. God is my purpose.

This Christmas day, I pray for you that this most precious baby Jesus will fill your soul with great joy and peace. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Question for Reflection: Have you ever experienced God’s joy during moments or situations that aren’t necessarily happy?

Susan is from California and enjoyed her role as wife and mother for 17 years. When her husband died, she put her degree to work teaching math to high school students. She retired in 2022 so that she could dedicate time to nurture her newfound faith. Living simply was born out of necessity, but it also allowed for greater freedom in looking for new opportunities. FMS was one of many doors that opened for Susan in her journey to seek others who share her faith as well as a desire to serve. As a long-term lay missioner, Susan looks forward to the opportunity to build relationships in her new home, as well as develop a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those marginalized in society.