Last year I read, “Abba’s Child,” by Brennan Manning. I gotta be honest, the title wasn’t sexy, but it came highly recommended, so I jumped in. In chapter 4, the author gave up a new term: “indiscriminate compassion.” To explain this, he used a metaphor: “is it possible for a rose to say, ‘I’ll offer my fragrance to good people but withhold it from bad people?'” Of course, the ultimate example of this, was Jesus hanging with indiscriminate compassion on a cross. There was no asterisk of names who were excluded from this. No one didn’t “make the cut.” No one was “too bad” to die for. I have been horribly judgmental of certain people and things, in past and present. Indiscriminate compassion doesn’t do this. It looks at ALL, the almost perfect, the grossly evil, and every person in between and when given the chance–has compassion. Our heart was not created to hold the weight of judgement for others. If it were, we would be God. Only God has perfect, equal distribution of judgement and pardon. When you think about it, we kinda get the easy job, to simply love indiscriminately, like the roses!
So God’s got a sense of humor giving me this idea at 5am! But just wanted to offer what I’ve learned over the years about how to be happy, sick. Which I realize sounds contradictory, but it’s not! I’ve learned we have a choice with our joy: we can choose it or lose it. And that same choice applies when we are sick. Remember, Paul was in prison, in shackles, with open wounds, starving (i.e. sick) and he chose to sing happy songs! Here are 5 things…
1) Smile even when it hurts. We are sick on the inside, sick on the outside, but our smile rarely gets sick. So keep it on, as best you can. It sends good vibes to people around you and looks better than a pout. In Proverbs 15:13, the bible says your smile is a billboard of your happiness! And happiness is an antidote to sickness.
2) Be kind. It’s not the doctor, nurse, spouse, kid, co-worker, bestie or whoever else’s fault that we’re sick. Truthfully, if we have to pick a beef with anyone, it’s God! He’s sovereign and before it passes through our lives, it passes through his hands. Kindness doesn’t mean over-active friendliness. It’s just not being a jerk. Besides, in Proverbs 14:21, the bible says, “if you wanna be happy, be kind!” It’s a great chain: kindness leads to happiness, happiness leads to healthiness.
3) Sometimes say, “Sorry,” but always say, “Please,” and “Thank you.” I might get some push back on this, but sometimes it’s just nice to say sorry to the people who are tirelessly tending to you. It just lets them know you know. Always say, “Please,” and “Thank you.” Never omit them from your sick body! In Proverbs 16:24, the bible says, “kind words are GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH!” Maybe part of our healing is in our kind words!
4) Watch funny (decent!) stuff. It’s good to laugh when you’re sick. It gets your mind off your matters and your matters off your mind. AND it’s biblical! When I’ve been sick I watch reruns of Seinfeld, and movies like Dumb and Dumber. In Genesis 21:6, the bible says, “God’s brought me laughter and everyone who hears will laugh WITH me.” That verse says it all! Your happiness can become others.’
5) Read the Happiest Book on Earth: the Bible. People and things can entertain you, distract you, comfort you, but what do you have at 3am when neither are around and you’re potentially at your sickest? If you are IN God’s word you will always HAVE God’s word. Read God’s word and watch God’s words minister to you when you need it the most. The bible says in Romans 7:22, “my inner being delights in your Law.” BOOM!
Every week, our church (in partnership with God Behind Bars) goes to the Women’s Homestead Correctional Facility to put on a church service, and this week I got to go twice…[Pause] In 2008, while driving in the middle of a downpour, I saw a homeless man. I asked God to give me eyes to see hurting people the way He does. A dangerous prayer if He answers it. Praying that prayer meant volunteerring my heart and eyes to feel people’s pain without actually going through it. Compassion can be a bittersweet thing. [Unpause] So at the prison this week, I had to look away and bite my lip a few times to keep tears from falling. Make no mistake, for these women, justice was served when they were sentenced. My compassion wasn’t wrapped up in that. My compassion came from the circumstances they were born into they had no control over. My compassion was feeling in my joints and breath what confinement and captivity (in some cases, for good) must feel like. But it wasn’t all tears! I was also filled with insurmountable joy that I got to serve them. Yes, you read that right! There is a dimension to serving that we don’t discover until we do it for people who haven’t earned it. A powerful case-in-point would be Jesus when he washed the feet of his disciples (even the one who’d betray him). Additionally, my joy was found in being a part of a church that brings a message of eternal freedom to women who may never have earthly freedom. Romans 8:1 says, “Who Jesus sets free is free indeed.” These women may have a barricade around their lives, but many of us have barricades around our hearts. These women didn’t chose prison, per se, but many of us keep ourselves in a proverbial prison. Either way, it is in the name of Jesus that ALL of us can have freedom. A heart that is free to unleash itself in the reckless abandon of God’s love. I hope you know Him. After seeing joy in the faces of these prisoners this week, I can’t think of better proof!
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” Luke 23:34 Yes, as Jesus hung on the cross, those who put him there gambled for his clothes. It seems preposterous. Who would eyewitness Jesus’ love in such a excrucatingly sacrificial way, and be distracted by gambling? But it isn’t preposterous. It happens all the time. Jesus is right in front of me and I “gamble” right in front of him. As Jesus draws near to me through the masterpiece of a rainbow, I’m too distracted complaining that it rained. As Jesus opens the doors to his House every weekend, I get distracted with “stuff” and don’t go. As Jesus patiently waits in my heart to have a conversation, I’m too distracted in other conversation with texts, tweets and snapchats. Maybe we aren’t witnessing Jesus on the cross, but we are still witnessing Jesus. He is on his throne in heaven and actively involved in your Earth. But are you distracted? I don’t know where you are. But I know where I have been. I lived my teen and college years being distracted with the proverbial gambling of partying…right in front of Jesus. But these days, when I think of being in front of Jesus, I desire eyes closed, arms high, heart open. (Brokeness will do that to you.) I know we don’t want to be like those gamblers at the cross who missed the greatest display of love FOR them, right IN FRONT of them. Jesus loves you SO HONKIN MUCH, don’t the devil of distraction rob you of that!
“I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” See, before Christ, Paul pleased people. They wanted him to persecute people? He did. They wanted him to stone people? He did. But then Paul accepted Christ. At a precipice, he realized he could not serve two masters, people and Christ. So Paul chose one, Christ. He would transition from people-pleaser to Jesus-pleaser. And if he could—we can. Author and Counselor, Lou Priolo says there is a word for our current day “people pleasing” syndrome: idolatry. It’s looking to someone else to do for me those things that only God can do. And if we just get real here: people pleasing is idolatry, idolatry is a sin, I’m sinning when I people-please. And if it’s a sin and we identify it as such, that’s actually GOOD news because one, Jesus paid for that sin so we don’t have to, and two, there is always a way out of a sin with God! So here are 3 super-uber simple tips I’ve personally practiced to (almost) eradicate people-pleasing from my life:
1) Pray each morning, “God lead me to please you today” and every night, pray, “God help me to please you tomorrow.” God says, “you do not have because you do not ask.” If you truly aspire to please God, ask God for it!
2) Christian counseling. Being proactive is flossing and brushing. But getting Christian-counseling is extracting what is rotten!
3) Read “People Pleasing” by Lou Priolo and “Approval Addiction” by Joyce Meyer
I hope this encourages someone today!
We get dumped. We get fired. We get benched. For most of us, there will be a time when we get taken down. And it won’t be our choice. But giving up doesn’t have to be our option. When God created us, He created us with an intricate wiring system that only gets sparked when we get taken down! This wiring has electricity of resolve, tenacity, and fortitude. I’ve seen this in my own life, in the lives of people around me and most importantly, in the life of Jesus. Around April 7, A.D. 30, Jesus was physically, relationally, socially, politically and emotionally taken down. It wasn’t his choice (“Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.” Matthew 26:39) but you know the story: staying down wasn’t his option! (“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!“ Luke 24) If you walk with God, BELIEVE the truth that He made you in His image, UNLEASH that wiring system that flows through the deepest cavity of your soul, and LET his Spirit help you stand back up again. Maybe this trial wasn’t your choice, but giving up doesn’t have to be your option.
During my college years, I was far from God. I’m thankful I made it through those years, alive; and more importantly, redeemed! Looking back, one thing I learned is pain and healing are not always on the same schedule. Let me explain. It took four years to screw up my college years, but it didn’t take four years to heal from them. Twenty years later, I still chase healing from those four years. Whether we cause the pain to ourselves or the pain is inflicted by others, the days of healing isn’t always proportionate to the days of pain. Sometimes, the healing can take longer. My point? Be patient. Don’t trust the clock, trust the Time Keeper. The bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God doesn’t promise a time frame, here. He just promises He’ll work it out. The ole adage is so true: let go and let God. I hope this encourages someone today.