“Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Suess
I say that this quote is one of my favorites, but do I like the sentiment, or do I really try to live it? Hmmm. I do tend to lament the ending of something that was beautiful or fun or exhilarating. This week I have seen the ending of a life, of a dream, of a job, of a program and said goodbye to some friends as they move away to start a new life chapter. Each of these made my heart hurt, but then I realized that the reason for my heart-hurt is because each of the things I am losing have brought me joy in the form of either love, or expansion and growth, or encouragement, or fun! My heart is so full with my blessings that when it is pricked, it feels like it is bleeding. What a blessed girl I am to have so many good things that my heart aches when loss or change comes. Heart emotions of pain from past joys lost aren’t always the reason for pain, but grieving can be a sign that great blessing has taken place.
Happiness may come and go, but JOY is a state of being created by the sum of what we have been given. The more we realize what we have been given, aka, the more we are grateful for our blessings, the more joy we experience. It’s like a beautiful dance where the music never stops. We are guaranteed to eventually lose everything that we have here on this earth. The beauty of being a Christian is that we have a joy that we will never lose! We have been given the greatest gift of all: unconditional love and eternal life with Christ. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior and make Him the Lord of our lives by honoring His commands, our gift and thus our joy cannot EVER be taken away. Jesus Himself says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-29) What a wonderful promise! So, when circumstances bring us down, we have something to make us smile through our tears and pain. The apostle Paul had it all: heritage, status, power, position, respect, zeal for his principles and beliefs. He was a big deal! He forsook ALL of it in the light of the gift of eternal life He received from Jesus. “I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him – a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 AMP) Paul endured the best of life, and the worst (flogged 5 x, beaten with rods 3 x, stoned 1 x, shipwrecked, in danger of being murdered, was hungry, thirsty, cold and naked – all for sharing the Good News of Jesus). YET He rejoiced because he was able to grab hold of the unequaled joy of a life in Christ.
I am guilty of perhaps staying a little too long in the depths of my losses, instead of leaning into thankfulness to Jesus for the blessings that I had for the time that I had them. When my eyes flap open every morning and my lungs grab a good-morning breath, am I more sad because the comfort of my soft, clean, warm bed is over? Or, do I smile and thank Jesus for the restoration that I have received, and for the gift of the day in front of me? Do I allow sadness to become my constant lifestyle in the wake of a loved one going to heaven to be with Jesus? Or, do I, after I have mourned the loss, try to focus on the blessing of the time that I had with them and radiate to others the joy of knowing that I will see them later? That IS the promise that Jesus gave us when we came to Him!
Let’s let our smiles and joy in the knowledge of our future outweigh what Jesus promises are our temporary tears of today.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17