I preached the Advent sermon on joy last Sunday. And wouldn’t you know it…this week has been one of those ride the struggle-bus, emotional roller-coasters – for no apparent outward reason. I know it’s just our enemy Satan trying to make me betray my words. If he can get me to fail, maybe someone else will also give up.
So, I’ll remind myself and you today that it’s OK to feel everything that we feel. But as psychologist and Women of Faith speaker Marilyn Meberg said: “Feelings don’t have brains.” That means that once we have had the good cry or eaten all the cookies or done whatever it is we do to process the stress, we must do something else too if we want to grow. We must wash our face, smile at ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves some truth – the truth that we are not complete failures no matter how we feel.
I can say that with assurance because of something Jesus said. After Jesus fed 5,000+ people and they all had enough, he told his disciples. “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (John 6:12, emphasis mine) We are all redeemable. Just as the disciples picked up leftovers that day, we can pick up the broken pieces of our lives, knowing they teach us wisdom or empathy, or give us the chance to gain strength. We make the choice to let nothing be wasted.
Much of life is about choices, because even if we are caught in a situation we didn’t choose or would never want, we can still choose. In the 1995 film Dangerous Minds there is a scene where English teacher LouAnne Johnson (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) asks her rough, inner-city class the strongest verb used in their lesson. They are throwing out silly answers when one girl in the front quietly says “Choose.” Johnson gets everyone’s attention and asks her why. The girl straightens herself up and says “Because that’s the difference between owning your life and being afraid.” The moment is a turning point for those students.
Choosing joy can be a turning point for each of us. In our Advent devotional Come Peasant, King it says the following. “Rejoice – because there is much to be sorrowful about. Be gentle – there are enough people who are rough, and rude, and harsh. Know that God is close – even thought you might not feel like God is. Don’t be anxious – even though there are plenty of things that cause anxiety. Embrace the peace of God in a world of turmoil. As Christians we aren’t called to pretend all is well. We are called to follow a Savior who is with us no matter what we face.” (p. 85)
I pray you make this choice today friends – the one that makes all the difference in the world. The one to follow our Savior Jesus. He doesn’t promise an easy road, but he does promise to walk with us every step of the way.