Remember that feeling when Christmas was just three nights away?
As a child, my siblings and I would “count the sleeps” until Christmas because we were so excited about the joy, food, and gifts of that time. I can’t remember a single fight or major problem ever arising between me and my brothers in the week leading up to Christmas. We were too focused on the joy that was to come. Every problem, worry, or set back seemed to fall away in light of what was soon to come.
Recently God has been teaching me to “count the sleeps” until Heaven. The time I spend in worry, fear, or dissatisfaction is currently being shaken by all that is to come by being with God in Heaven. Did your phone get lost? It’s not that big of a deal. Did your favorite restaurant close down? You’re not going to miss it. I know there are certain things in life that actually need to be mourned and grieved, just like Jesus who cried over the death of Lazarus and was moved with compassion over the crowds, but I am receiving so much life in God’s promises of eternity with Him. James 1: 2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything”. In 2 Thessalonians 4, Paul writes about the resurrection of the dead and all believers going to be with Jesus, then he says in verse 18, “So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”
So, brother and sister, do you take joy in suffering, and comfort and encouragement in what is to come? Jesus is teaching me to receive this. Recently, I was able to apply this by joyfully lifting my voice to praise God while biking 10 km in dirty toxic rain to get home. I really didn’t realize that all of my clothes and money were completely soaked, that I was dirty and stinky, or that I was alone and far from home. I knew I was going to get home eventually, and I know I will one day be home, in Heaven. May the joy of Christ continue to pour fourth in our lives.