By Chris Sweet, guest contributor
God has been teaching me about feeling the joys of life while pain is present. I’ve learned that His love is in the reflection of the shattered pieces of glass reflecting our brokenness. It’s the glimpse of light on its shards. The broken edge reflects the Creator’s loving gaze, who picks us up, roots for us to get up, heals us, and showers us with grace and mercy.
I’ve been encouraged by amazing books on the topic of loss and finding joy such as those written by Dr. Mary C. Neal and Pastor Levi Lusko who themselves have suffered unimaginable loss. Dr. Neal wrote the book “To Heaven and Back” and Pastor Lusko wrote “Through the Eyes of a Lion”. Dr. Neal died and went to heaven and returned to tell her story about Jesus, heaven and the angels. She also suffered the loss of her son. Pastor Lusko suffered the loss of his daughter. The tragedies suffered by both are our worst nightmares. But they talk about Jesus and their interaction with Him and the hope and healing He provides. Dr. Neal in an interview said that the verses that were pressed into her spirit when she returned back to her body after dying were simple but powerful:
Pray without Ceasing 1 Thess 5:17
Be Joyful Always 1Thess 5:16
Give Thanks in All Circumstances 1 Thess 5:18
I love this simple mantra so much (Pray! Joy! Thanks!) that I wanted to share it with you. When he lost his daughter, Pastor Lusko reflected on the assurance that what can’t be seen with the naked eye is being also worked out by God. He states in his book that “This is the war: every moment of every day, we must make the all-important choice of whether we will rely on the naked eye. Will we trust what we can see is there, or believe what God says is there? … The apostle Paul put it this way: ‘So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.’ 2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT.”
We have all suffered such tragedies in our own lives. Remind yourself that Jesus loves you. Hold on to the things that cannot be seen. He is always working behind the scenes of your life. His intent toward us is love. Take the verses in the Bible as God’s promises to you that He has you. And as we continue our days on earth in whatever form and with whatever condition, let us hold these verses as our mantra “Pray without ceasing, be joyful always, and give thanks in all circumstances.” Here are some ideas for living that mantra:
Pray without ceasing. Have an open conversation with God that starts in the morning and just talk to him throughout the day and ending in the evening before you go to bed.
Live with Joy. Laugh, tell jokes and enjoy conversations with family and friends. Take a moment and look at nature and appreciate the beauty in this world. Do things that make you happy and try to figure out ways to make others happy (e.g. by sending that encouraging text message).
Be grateful. Tell God all the things you are grateful for. Have your family and friends name off things that they are grateful for when you get together.
And, don’t give up on your dreams that God has whispered to you from the time you were born. Do your mission and live “Pray! Joy! Thanks!” (Love it, love it, love it).