How do we enter the suffering of the world without being depressed, overwhelmed, or perpetually angry?
The world is a mess. Humanity is insane. We’re all crazy. The asylum is on fire.
And yet, because of Jesus, evil, sin, and death are defeated, God is with us, and a new world is on the horizon. Jesus is making all things new. He invites us to participate in making all new, to help put out the fire, rescue the victims, push back the darkness, and bring sanity to the chaos.
Joy? Peace? In the midst of this mess? While there are wars, walls, and children dying?
How can we come to the suffering of the world with hearts filled with deep, abiding, radiating, transforming joy?
1. Trust Jesus – God is love, love, peace and joy are at the core of all creation. Jesus said:
· “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”(John 15:11 NRSV)
· “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)
· Believe what he said. Take it heart. Look to him for love, joy, and peace.
2. Do the meditative and prayer work. Spend time in prayer, meditate on the scriptures, enter deeply into contemplation every day. It will connect you with the divine.
3. Invest in relationships. Friendships and lovers are sacred.
4. Make friends with someone different from you – someone homeless, disabled, or of a different ethnicity. You’ll learn a lot.
5. Focus on a miserable stranger. When you’re in a public place, on the train, in a pub, coffee shop, or riding a bus, pick out someone who looks miserable (they’re all over the place), focus your heart on them and silently pray God’s love into them. It’ll change you both. (Might want to pick someone facing the other way so they don’t think you’re weird.)
6. Passionately love nature; celebrate creation. Spend time in the woods or on a quiet beach. Hike. Wade. Lie on your back and watch clouds and stars.
7. Get a pet. They’re therapeutic.
8. Play every day.
9. Spend some time each day with the arts: Listen to music (especially Bach), enjoy art, play with painting, visit museums, attend a play.
10. Pour yourself into your particular sacred mission. God has something special that you are uniquely designed to do. Find it and do it.
“Although you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy…” (1 Peter 1:8 NRSV)