Rise and Shine! (When it Isn’t Easy)
By Terri C
When we move past the “name it and claim it” doctrine, we learn to accept that we are going to face human issues for as long as we are wearing this coat of flesh. It’s very easy to understand the concept that bad things will happen as we sojourn through this world if you think about it. We “know” that the stresses of life can strengthen and mature us, like a muscle that takes shape as it is exercised. “Knowing” something is different, though, from Knowing it. From experiencing it for ourselves. In the midst of a bad situation, it isn’t as easy to believe what we “know”. Oh, our mouths might be talking about God’s mysterious ways and how much we will grow in our trial, but sometimes in this trial, were gripped with fear or dread in our spirit. A visit to the ER, either as patient or concerned loved one, is a good example of this. So is attending a funeral. Sometimes, others can be hateful toward us. We “know” that we’re called to rise above it, and we pray to do just that. However, it’s easy to be gripped by anger, self-pity or indignation in the midst of their rumors and gossip. What makes this situation hard is that most often, it is someone we love being hateful. Finding ourselves ill or physically impaired is another time when what we “know” won’t keep us shining on its own. It’s easy (I know from experience) to be gripped in despair, self-pity, or even frustration!
Any of the situations I’ve mentioned above will have an effect on how we shine God’s Light. Take heart, though! The effect needn’t be negative. Quite the opposite can be true, as well. He certainly “shines” brightest for us when we cry out from our darkest hours! We could do the same in His Name. People aren’t surprised to see others behaving badly. In fact, they are amused by it. But when we shine God’s Light during the hardest times, people are baffled. And drawn. The difference between whether we’ll shine when it isn’t easy or cast shadows is the difference between “knowing” and Knowing.
The first step is getting to Know God better; in the good days, the bad and even the mundane! In Christianity, we were taught that God was man-like, lived in us and only had one way to be approached. Here on this side of the cross, we can see that He is uncontainable and limitless. We can understand that we live in Him and not the other way around. We realize here that He has so many facets, we could spend eternity discovering new ones! It’s almost like getting to Know a brand new God! As we change the way we see Him, everything begins to fall into place. Celebrating a God so vast that still cares about us prompts us to give Him praise, honor and glory. Doing that on a good day is easy-peasy! Doing it on a horrible day will catapult us closer to Knowing. Prayer, careful Scripture study and lots of practice shining His Light will keep us moving toward Him. We repent of our own sin in the midst of bad situations, and then we are ready to Rise and shine when it isn’t easy. Below are a few situations we will likely encounter along the way. Of course, each case is unique, but there are commonalities in the solutions we can adjust according to the experience:
- During Crisis or Tragedy: We shine here when we remain calm in chaos. We hold onto our peace, and project it toward others. We help with our hands in any way we can. We build with our words, and taste them before we spit them out. We speak life, faith and reassurance. We don’t add angst to a situation that’s already volatile. We remain steadfast, refusing to be gripped by any negative emotion that might flutter through our heart or mind. We find the good in things, and magnify them. We never stop giving God due glory, honor and praise.
- Handling the Haters: We’ll experience two kinds of them. The ones who don’t know us well are not so tough. They can be strangers, co-workers or casual acquaintances. We can fairly easily count them as sandpaper that will only buff our shine. We can walk away if need be, but usually simple manners and holding on to our peace will get us through these encounters in ways that honor God and shine His Light. The ones we love, though, can wound us deeply, can’t they? Some do their hating right to our faces, and some behind our backs with rumors and slander. Both are hurtful, and hard to shine through! But we can. When someone we love hates on us, publically or privately, the only One we share it with is God. We pour out our hurt there, along with anything else we have to say about the hater. We do not repay insult for insult or rumor for rumor. The person with whom there is an issue is the only one we need explain “our side of it” to. We cannot control their actions after that initial conversation, but we can control our own! We have to remember that God is fighting on our behalf, we need not launch an attack or defence. We can trust that those who would listen to rumors about us without seeking us out first for the truth aren’t people we need in our “corner” anyway. The people who care about us and care about God’s way of doing things won’t further perpetuate any rumors, but quell them instead. Have loved ones accused you of being in a cult, of being brainwashed, or even worse, of being damned? You’re not alone! They can’t diminish your shine in the least, IF you handle the situation in a way that brings glory, honor and praise to God! (A) Stand firm in His truth (B) Remain peaceful (C) Go about doing good.
- During Times of Affliction: I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been around someone who bewails their affliction without ceasing. We know from hearing them that bewailing does nothing to honor our perfect Creator. Extending sympathy or empathy becomes an effort, because often, it seems like the person refuses to see any bright side in their situation, or to accept comfort. We can let this be our first lesson in how to shine in our own affliction. Don’t be like that! This is another area where our concerns and frustrations need only be shared with God. For anyone else, it is still on us to shine! Our words are paramount in this circumstance. In any circumstance, really, but that’s a whole other post, LOL! In our affliction, we speak words of hope and faith. For instance, if we are in bed with the flu when a friend calls and asks how we are doing, we have two choices in answering. Life or death. Which answer better glorifies God above us?
~I’ve never been so sick in my life! Everything hurts and I can’t keep a thing down!~
~My immune system is getting a workout! How wonderfully we are made to be able to fight germ warfare!~
No matter what our affliction may be, there is a way we handle it that points toward life, and allows God’s Light to shine from within us, no matter what the circumstance.
Without question, there are times that shining God’s Light presents us with challenges! I have to wonder, though, if those are the times when God’s light shines at its brightest wattage. Little that we have that cost us nothing retains any value, does it? It’s that which has cost us dearly that we hold most dear. There is a cost for believing the Scriptures, too. The cost of living like we believe they’re true… whether we “feel” like it or not. The cost of standing on God’s words when we want to speak our own. The cost of thinking of His Light and how we will reflect it instead of thinking of our own hurt feelings, anger, or even our physical comfort. As we deepen our connection to the source of Light and put into practice what we are learning, it will become our nature to Rise and Shine, especially when it isn’t easy!