“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” -Hebrews 12:1-2

Picture someone in a hospital wearing a clown nose. Now picture that person as a cancer patient hooked up to an IV of all sorts of poisons and chemicals.

That is the image of my friends Carla and Robyn. Robyn is one of my best friends, and she is the main caretaker for her mom, Carla, who was recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I have seen a number of friends and family members battle cancer, but I haven’t seen any of them do it quite like this.

You see, Carla and Robyn had an idea one day in the cancer center that maybe they could make this heart-wrenching, faith-stretching experience not so much about them. They decided to make it about bringing joy to the people around them. So now, every time they go to a chemo appointment, they wear a different costume and bring a bunch of delicious homemade treats for the nurses and doctors. Their costumes have included tutus, superhero outfits, and Broncos gear, including orange and blue dye in the little amount of white hair Carla has left.

I watch in awe as my friends courageously face each chemo session with a new batch of cookies to give away and a bold attitude that says, “I will choose joy, even when my circumstances are difficult.”

To further spread the inspiration, Robyn posts pictures and videos to social media with the hashtag “operationchoosejoy. Viewers constantly post comments about how moved they are from seeing Carla and Robyn choose joy in the face of fear, pain, and even death. Carla and Robyn don’t do it for the sake of getting a certain number of “likes” or for potential Internet fame. They do it in hopes that they can encourage others to decide to be joyful in hard circumstances and consider serving others when it would be easier to focus on yourself.

Robyn shared with me that she has been deeply encouraged by the passage in Hebrews 12 that talks about how Jesus endured death on the cross for the joy set before him. What was the joy awaiting him? You. And me. And all of his children who get to spend eternity with him in heaven because of the sacrifice he made.

While I think about the price Jesus paid for my life, knowing he did it because he was anticipating spending eternity with me, it gives me courage to face my circumstances with joy. It gives Carla and Robyn the ability to go to a chemo appointment wearing clown noses. I am blessed to witness Carla and Robyn’s amazing story, because not only do they inspire me, but they touch so many people with whom they interact. I know they will continue to choose joy whatever happens next.

A Prayer for Today

Lord, please help me to face my circumstances with joy. I want to reflect your love to others by being joyful and selfless, even when my situation dictates the exact opposite. Thank you for enduring the cross so that you could spend eternity with me. Amen.

This devotion is written by Lauren Bratten.