When The Stage Darkens

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We spend so much time chasing happiness. Have you ever stopped to think about how much effort you put into acquiring and maintaining happiness in a day? Some people shoe-shop. Some deer hunt. Others seek outside approval in  many different ways. At the end of the day, no one wants to face the night alone. Darkness has a way of reminding us of just how frail and fragile we truly are. At 3am, my new pair of Jordans can’t offer lasting happiness, unless they are propelling my body away from impending danger. And even then, that happiness in only temporary.

I think happiness is an emotional illusion. I learned a long time ago, reality can never measure up to the fantasies we conjure. I think that’s why we chase after happiness so hard. We love the idea of blissful euphoria 24/7, but we can never truly hold on to that. It’s just not reality. Real life is often too painful for happiness to remain constantly.

I don’t want this to be morbid. I’m actually going somewhere, so stick with me.

I think…and this is just my opinion…what we really search for is joy unspeakable. Joy is solid, like an iceberg. You see, the difference between happiness and joy is depth. Happiness is surfacecy (yes I just made that word up) temporary. It can hit instantly and last for a long time, or it can slowly build to a climax of short-lived proportions. But, in the end, happiness fades because it resides in the soul of man; that emotional room within us. Ahh, but joy. Joy lives deep within our hearts and resists the changing tides of life’s unpredictable waves. Even in the midst of pain and sorrow, joy can keep us sane.

A good friend just recently lost her mother. I know what she’s about to go through. The pain of loss begins as unbelief, until time draws it out. That unbelief soon becomes anger; the kind of anger that no new pair of shoes can never replace with happiness. But where happiness fails, joy strengthens and bridges.

I’ve heard it said that comedians are only happy when they are performing on stage, ripping the crowd. That happiness is a high like no other and, for that moment in time, the comedian is fully alive. But what happens when the stage darkens and the audience goes home? What happens when the comedian is left onstage in the dark without laughter ringing in his ears? Happiness can’t help him in the alone time. But joy reminds him that, even when the crowd leaves, the audience of one is still pleased and still loves him. Even in the darkness of a barren stage, the Lord’s joy grants comfort.


Dear T,

No one will ever replace our parents. I can’t honestly say that you will get over her passing. The truth is, you never will. Rather…you will learn to go on living your life without her in plain sight. But, she’ll always remain in your heart.

When I lost my Mom to cancer, I cursed God. Yet, he used that time in my life to draw me near to him. I really didn’t want to get to know him because I thought he was bad for me. But it turned out that the Lord wanted to plant joy in my heart. As I slowly began to yield, I found forgiveness for my wife, and I even learned to forgive myself for bad things I’d done in my pain.

My friend, I don’t know if you’re ready to hear this, but I hope you listen. Speak to God, T. Tell him what you’re feeling right now. Tell him about your hurt and pain. Tell him how sad you are over your Mom’s death. Tell him to *blank* off, if you need to! He already knows anyway. But telling him frees you to begin the healing process. And T, he will heal you, if you let him. The joy he has waiting on the other side of your pain will be enough to help you walk through any obstacles that lie waiting in your future. Know that you have family and friends who are praying for you and your family. Don’t settle for chasing after temporary happiness in this difficult time. I hope and pray that you seek after the Lord’s joy.

Thankful In All Things

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I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) – “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 16 tells us to “be joyful always”: not easy to do, but the joy of the Lord conquers the toughest of trials, if we allow ourselves to trust in him.

Verse 17 tells us to “pray continually”: we’re not talking about constant, deep, time consuming prayers that would eventually impede on your daily life tasks. I think what Paul is talking about is developing a heart and attitude of prayer, where you constantly speak with the Lord throughout the day. Anything from small desires to dire needs can be addressed when we have an attitude of prayer throughout the day. There doesn’t need to be a specified time.

Verse 18 says give thanks in all circumstances. My bible notes make it clear that evil does not come from God. As I said last night, we live in an imperfect world. Evil is everywhere. But, I believe we need to thank God even while we are in the midst of the storm; we should thank him for walking us through the trials. It’s hard to see God when we’re in the middle of a struggle, but know that he is there beside us; guiding our steps and helping us to persevere.

The content of these three verses doesn’t come naturally to us. In fact, we have to diligently practice them. Learning to be thankful in all things teaches us to love and respect the God who created everything.