By Rick Lewers

Surprised by joy


It is not every day that someone like me is invited to a black-tie dinner where the ticket price is bigger than some people's weekly salary.

It was the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation's 'Diamonds are Forever' Gala Ball.

The MCs were Australian television presenters Chris Bath and Jim Wilson, who themselves have shared the grief of the loss of a child to brain cancer. It was a reminder that death respects no one, including our television news and sports reporters.

Gifted neurosurgeon Professor Charlie Teo is the Foundation's instigator and was the keynote speaker. I have never met him, but he cared for my friend Steve and his wife while Steve fought the tumour that would eventually have us at the graveside.

It was my friend's death that led us, some five years on, to be sitting at this Ball, the guests of Steve's wife along with many of our living friends.

Dressed up, beautifully fed, and entertained, I personally found the night a hard one, as it reminded me of my one-time confidante and advisor. It added another daily reminder of how much I miss him.

His widowed wife sat beside me, a friend since we were 14, with friends who can only partially fill the void her husband has left and lovingly recognize her loneliness.

As the night progressed, I took my cue from Steve's widow who, with a spirit of hope for a future cure, also held on to her certain hope in Jesus Christ and the resurrection from the dead for an eternal reunion with the man she so loved.

The lavish surrounds and three-course meal were only surpassed by the generosity of a people who want to find a cure for brain cancer.

Auctions, silent and loud, were conducted and over a million dollars raised. At one point the auctioneer declared we had raised over $200,000 in less than six minutes.

Generosity is worthy of our consideration in an age that keeps telling us that life is all about 'me'.

Plenty of people make themselves happy by indulging themselves, but happiness, which is something dependent on happenings, is no replacement for the deeper realities of joy.

Generosity frees us from slavery to money, time and selfGenerosity does not remove happiness but it makes for something richer and it may end in happiness, although that is not its ambition.

Generosity empathizes with those in need. Generosity reflects thankfulness for the life given and appreciation of life-givers.

Generosity frees us from our slaveries to money, to time, to self, and more. Generosity can prove a delight to the eye as we see the effects of a gift given.

Generosity allows us to lose what we don't need to gain something we could never buy... and that's joy.

In trying generosity, the biggest surprises are in how much it changes you and me.

God is described as joy, which is not surprising when you consider His generosity in mercy, grace and love, the forgiveness He offers and the hope He provides, even when the tumors cannot be healed.

My hope is that you may recognize the amazing generosity of God's provision of a right relationship with Him through the gift of His Son Jesus on a cross, at a place called Calvary, to deliver us from our sin, our rebellion against God.

Then as you come to that realization, it may be the means by which you learn to give and be surprised by the joy it brings.

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