We live in a broken world where things seem to have a tendency to go wrong. The trajectory of the corrupted world seems to be toward sadness, brokenness, incompleteness. Because sin. And even when our lives seem to be going fairly well, we don’t have to look far to find hopelessness.
We have find reasons to rejoice.
The blessed narrative for many of us in the Western world is one that rises and falls, often in rapid succession. And the drops tend to yell with louder voices, commanding greater attention. Even as we try to fight the gravitational pull downward toward difficulty, we have reason to hope.
How do we live in this broken world, and find hope in our everyday lives while the world screams at us that there is none? When so many enormous trials face millions of people, how do we find reasons to rejoice as we face our everyday, mundane disappointments?
We have to look for reasons to REJOICE
So over the last few days, I have been looking….
Monday, October 2nd, 2017
6:00AM – I awoke, like most others, to the tragic news of a senseless act of violence in Las Vegas. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it, and the disbelief swirled around in my mind as I prepared for the day, the numbers of deceased and wounded steadily climbing. I pray that the joy of the Lord strengthen those facing this tragedy. I have reason to rejoice because I know He is faithful.
7:00-8:00 – I embarked on the familiar morning ritual of repeatedly encouraging a fourteen-year-old girl with fourteen-year-old hormones and blood sugars running high to get ready for school. And I happen to be at the point in parenting my third where I am annoying 93.5% of the time. I remind myself, “Children are a gift from the LORD ; they are a reward from him.” (Ps 127:3) I have reason to rejoice because He has given me the opportunity to shape her life.
8:20AM – I chose to sing my hope as I drove to work. I dropped my daughter at school (miraculously on time), then prayed and sang, and asked God to move in Las Vegas, to move in my daughter, and to move in me.
And then my suburban was hit by a semi…
And I realized I was okay.
8:39AM – And, as though the Lord Himself were holding me, I was able to move out of traffic, and remain calm while assessing the damage. I had no pain, I didn’t think I was in shock, and I didn’t even feel anger toward the other driver.
I just sat there & looked for hope.
There had to be reasons to rejoice even in this moment.
- My son had decided not to come with me that morning, so he was not in the passenger seat, where the majority of the impact was.
- I was literally one minute from my work.
- We were in a roundabout, so our speed had been reduced.
- My husband was almost immediately accessible to drop everything and come.
- One of my Pastors (and friends) was on the scene within minutes.
- My 13-years-faithful suburban had remained so today.
- No one was hurt, and I was not at fault for this collision.
There were so many reasons to rejoice in these unexpected moments.
10:30 – But after the police report, the tow truck and the rental car, a phone call came from the police officer. He was full of apologies as he revealed I was at fault, according to a new law neither he, nor I, (nor any of the insurance agents I talked to through the day), had known about.
And I felt myself slipping toward disbelief and almost anger. How quickly I felt my trajectory change! I could not (still cannot!) wrap my mind around this law that allows semi drivers to ignore posted traffic patterns and forces other drivers to go against conventional wisdom. But even in my frustration, I can rejoice.
It just may be a little more difficult
11:30AM – So after attending to obligatory accident details for the rest of the morning, I finally arrived at work, my intended destination. There I met my caring co-workers who were concerned for me, and encouraging to my heart. They helped me continue to look for reasons to rejoice, as I joined our meeting (already in progress) and we celebrated what God had done over the weekend.
2:30 PM – And when we were finally tired of sitting and working through some difficult items, we went out for fresh air. My team looked for reasons to rejoice together.
And we found them:
- We welcomed the staff of a new bank to the neighborhood,
- We laughed as some of us raced down the sidewalk
- Also, we successfully avoided the doughnut shop (it helped that it was closed…)
- And we stopped at a playground to swing as high as we possibly could.
The sun, fresh air, and blood pumping through my veins lifted me out of the pit of irritation that wanted to swallow me whole. I just had to choose to be lifted up.
After intentionally looking for reasons to rejoice that afternoon, it was much easier to return to the tasks of the day. Minute by minute, that one day threw several curveballs that distracted and tempted me to lose sight of hope. But, curveballs or not, it is 100% my choice to rejoice.
And we all have that choice every minute of every day. So, how can face this world, with all its bad news and disappointments, and find reasons to rejoice? Is it true that we can bless the Lord at all times? (Ps 34:1a).
Bless the Lord at all Times
I believe that in all circumstances, there are three things that can quickly re-focus us to bring hope:
God hears me.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)
God turns his ears to his children. He hears the prayer of the son or daughter who calls out to Him. No matter our situation, God is El Roi, the God who sees us.
God holds me.
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
God is like a tender shepherd who gathers his lambs in His arms. He pulls us close to protect us under the shadow of His wing. He will not let go.
God calls me to Himself.
Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him to life on the last day.” (John 6:44)
God has made a way in Jesus to bring us to Himself. And as we draw near to Him, He continues to draw near to us. Because He has welcomed us as sons and daughters into His own family.
When all around you the world seems to be falling apart, remember that you have reasons to rejoice.
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As we face tragic news, parenting struggles, and even wrecked cars, God has given countless reasons to rejoice. So will you join me?