Written by: Angela Mercer

Earlier this year a dear friend of ours passed away. After a fierce battle with cancer, He went home to be with the Lord. During the months leading up to his death there were other circumstances in our lives that were heavily laid on our shoulders as well and it was everything in me to just breathe.

As pastors we have witnessed our fair share of heartache, we have walked people through the death of their friends and even children. It is never easy but our friend passing away hit uncomfortably close to home. My husband had been quite close to this young man and our kids loved him a lot too. It was just a really difficult time. I am sure as you read this you can relate.

There was one week in particular where my emotions were just so raw that I would burst to into tears at the most inopportune time. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything like it. It took me off guard and I felt I had no control over it. I would feel my blood pressure rise and I could barely catch my breath. I felt like I was unravelling.

I remember the moment I had with the Lord like it was yesterday. I was feeling so overwhelmed. I can’t imagine what our friend’s parents were feeling or his wife, all I knew is that if I was in that much pain I couldn’t imagine how they were feeling. The heaviness in my heart was beyond comprehension. I cried out to the Lord. I felt like I was sinking and the weight was too much to bear. I was emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted.

Psalm 16:11 says, “…You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”

I couldn’t imagine what it was like to just feel better but beyond that how does one find joy in these circumstances. James 1 reminds us that we are to consider it joy when we face trials. Joy… really? I am not sure who reads that verse and thinks, but how?

My pastor recently expressed that trying to have joy is like squeezing water with your fist. The more you squeeze the more the water just squishes through your fingers. It’s fleeting. We don’t find joy, or try to have joy. When we attempt to manufacture something that is not innately in us it was just fade.

So, I realized that the only way I was going to have any joy in my life was through my quiet time in the presence of God. It seems that when we are going through the darkest times of our lives, these are the times we have the hardest time having any desire for God or His Word. But even if we are to just sit there and ask to fill us. Expressing that we can do nothing without Him and we need His presence.

During this Christmas season, if joy is some far off distant fantasy, know that the only joy you will ever experience is in the nearness of God. He will give you a joy that is not of this world. It does not come out of circumstance, feelings or things. It comes directly from the heart of God, who IS joy, to your heart.

Praying you experience joy this season in a way you have never experienced it before.


Angela is passionate about Jesus, women and building community. She fully believes that women are the heartbeat of the church. Angela has been married to her favourite man, Blair, for 17 years and together they pastor Gateway Church in Komoka, Ontario. When Angela is not leading worship or running some type of women’s event, you will find her doing a DIY, reading a good book, drinking her husbands amazing coffee or planning a meal with friends. One day she hopes to make pie as good as her mom’s. Angela has two incredible kids to call her own (Isaac 13, Michaela 12) who keep her quick and on her feet and enjoying every single moment of life.