Sunday, April 01, 2007
Every person has this in common; we all want to be happy. It’s the pathway we each choose to find that destination that differs broadly. This is a hard pill for many to swallow, especially for many church-goers and people of faith. Happiness, by some, is equivalent with being shallow or superficial or not living in the real world. Do you know someone who is genuinely happy? Probably not many of us do. The reason being happy is so hard to accept as legitimate is because our happiness is being assaulted every single day of our lives. Tragedy strikes us on every front. Our world is broken, and pain and sorrow often stand waiting for us at the edge of the bed as we rise. Many of us, survival is our first thought. “How will I make it through the day?” Take mountain climber Aron Ralston for example. Survival instinct led him to cut off his hand after four days of being pinned under a boulder. I watched an interview with him and heard the responses of a sample of viewers to the story. Some thought he was courageous, most thought he was an idiot for getting himself in such a dangerous situation in the first place. Regardless, I’m impressed with his choice. Instead of resigning, giving up and rolling over to die, he was willing to exchange the loss of his hand for more days to be alive and enjoy life. When it got difficult, he didn’t quit. Grief, sorrow, illness, pain and cutting off your hand are not what we wake up in the morning looking to find. These things find us. But we must contend with them if we are to take our joy seriously. It is far too easy to let the circumstances lead us to stay in the dark. The phrase, the joy of the Lord is your strength, must be taken as seriously today as in the days of Nehemiah. The effect is simple. The more we are familiar with joy, the more we want to experience it. Similar to our vacations in Colorado, the reason we love going back year after year is this; we have a wonderful time there. You may find yourself stuck in the wilderness and far from the joy of the Lord, but keep listening for its invitation back.