It has been a hot minute folks, but I have been enjoying this first month of “summer”! Technically, I no longer have a summer cause, yah know, I’m in the working world now. However, I have still tried to take advantage of days off, and enjoy these beautiful days here in Nashville.
To continue the exploration of the first part of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “rejoice
always”, here is my take on another thief of joy and how to stay joyful throughout it.
There are most certainly other thieves of joy in my life that make “rejoice always” a pretty hard task. For me, I find that heartbreaks either from a boy, friend, or life change is a top barrier to staying joyful. I find the tragedy of sickness and death to be hard to rejoice through. This is where the difference between joy vs happiness is brought to light. We can still be joyful without being happy about our current circumstances. Its hard, but hear me out.
It’s hard to understand why rejection creeps in when we think we are doing everything correctly. It’s hard to understand why bad things happen to good people. During a heartbreak, there is really not much to say that immediately cures all. There are tragedies that we can’t predict and rejections that we won’t expect. Jesus even warns us in John 16:33: “in this world you will have troubles” (John 16:33); however, He doesn’t stop there… “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Now in the midst of being rejected, its hard to find ease by being told “It’s okay Jesus overcame the world.” That is not the most therapeutic response. It won’t immediately provoke a turn around that brings sunshine and rainbows.
As a nurse, I am constantly around sick people that all have different backgrounds and life stories. In the midst of their everyday lives, a sickness completely rocks their world, and it completely changes their reality. How do I promote a joyful state for them as they lay in a hospital bed unsure of when they will be stable enough to go home? How do we help lift up the spirits of those that have a completely new reality? Their whole world has changed. These troubles are HARD! It is even hard to be a part of their story as a nurse let alone being the actual patient going through such turmoil. How do we “take heart”? It is one of the biggest misunderstandings in this world. It is one of the biggest arguments against Christianity: how can a good God let all these bad things happen? Even more how could Jesus tell us to rejoice always, and then allow for such tragedy.
In the book “A Reason for God” by Tim Keller, he addresses this issue of how a loving God can allow such evil in a world. One of the many points Keller makes is, though there is this evil, Heaven will be all the better because of some of the things we go through in this world. This world is filled with sin, tragedy, and heartbreak because of the fall of man back at the beginning of the world. However, the contrast will be immaculate. Once we get to Heaven, it will be that much sweeter, endearing, and lovely. To help explain his point, he uses the great example of when we have a nightmare. In the midst of the dream, we feel anguish and fear, but when we awaken, we appreciate the good we awaken to that much more because of the ounce of fear from the nightmare. The small nightmare or the tragedy will seem like a small bump when up against the magic awaiting us in Heaven that is for eternity.
This is such a great realization; however, we still endure the nightmare. We still endure the
heartbreak, turmoil, and obstacles of this world. Rejoicing through it is hard, but Keller’s explanation allows for a small piece of joy in knowing that our eternity will be better than we can even imagine. These feelings are fleeting, and in the midst of the nightmare, turn to ask for peace and joy in knowing that this nightmare is not forever.
The hope for a better eternity is a way to stay joyful in such times. The hope that the loved one is
rejoicing in a better place provokes joy. The hope that a better tomorrow, week, month, and year are coming stems joy. Hold on to the hope; God’s promise is that things will get better. If not in this lifetime, it will in Heaven.
Sometimes this nightmare serves us to turn back to God. Sometimes the nightmare is a part of a bigger plan or bigger purpose. It is easier to say this and easier to accept this when the bigger purpose happens or when we aren’t in the middle of the tragedy. However, God’s promises never fail. Even in the midst of the storm, God promises to help fight off the storm, help one through it, and help pick up the pieces afterwards. And always after the storm, we will be blessed with some sort of rainbow. Take peace in that and rejoice in that. Its hard. But its not your eternity.
Lets hold on to joy this summer!
xoxo Katie Girl
Keller, Timothy. The
Reason for God. Dutton, 2008.