Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to the Grind

     I have just returned home from a wonderful trip to Wisconsin with the majority of my family. Unfortunately, my husband and my younger brother could not make the trip with us due to their work schedules, but the rest of my family was able to view some beautiful scenery, see several tourist attractions, and eat wonderful food. Yet, even through the trip, my resolve to be thankful and grateful for God's blessings was put to the test.

     See, right now, life seems to be shrouded by a dark cloud of eminent doom. A haunting question that hangs over my family. Is this the last time? Is this the last trip I will go on with my sister? If it is, did I spend enough time with her? Why didn't I take more pictures with her? Did I show her that I love her?

     All these thoughts swirl through my head and coat my memories with a bitter-sweet feeling. Because of all this, I think I have been learning that joy is a choice. I have known this for a long time, and from and early age I was taught that "happiness is an emotion, but joy is a state of mind." However, as of late, I have really been required to put that knowledge into practice. Having joy really comes from putting life into perspective. It comes from, once again, refocusing on what is true.

1. This life is not the end. I know I have talked about this before, but it is truly one of my deepest comforts. At some point, I will lose my sister in this life. It may be a year or 30 years, but at some point we will die. But this life is not all there is. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, death is the beginning of eternal life - an eternal life spent with our Lord and Savior. Paul writes,
            So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we              are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:6-8). 
For the believer, death is a homecoming. It is the end of pain and suffering and the beginning of true joy and peace.

2. The pain, sorrow, and fear I feel now are temporary. Life is short. It is a momentary breath compared to eternity. At times, life seems cruel and overwhelming. It feels like it is too painful, too hard, too difficult. Life seems to kick us while we are down. At times, it feels like everything in life is attempting to break our spirit. But those moments are short. Those moments are, just that, momentary. Paul again reminds us,
     So we do not loose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being                renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal                weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to things that are seen but to the things      that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Times of suffering are moments of brevity. They are not even worth comparing to the joy of eternal life with my Redeemer.

     It is to these truths that I, once again, cling. I think this is another thing that the Lord has really been teaching me - I have a deep need for The Truth. For as long as I can remember, I have know that Jesus said "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). But I have always thought of this verse in reference to being tangled in your own web of lies. However, I am now learning that in every situation, the truth is liberating. I am learning to daily fix my eyes on the truth and cling to it in times of struggle and in times of blessing. It is only in the truth that joy can be found.

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