Keep Moving Forward
The earth is always moving. It never stops. It makes a full rotation around the sun in a 24-hour period. The sun makes its appearance every 12 hours – give or take. Some days are beautiful and sunny, without a cloud in the bright blue sky. And then some days bring dreary, dark, cold clouds which impede our ability to see the sun. We do, however, have scientific assurance; no matter rain or shine, gloomy or bright, the sun does its job and always rises.
Sometimes we face hardships; life can be cruel. No matter how much we try to understand our circumstances, there is no explanation. Sometimes, things just happen; something we didn’t cause; things we cannot control or change. But – we must overcome. Each time life knocks us down, we get back up stronger. After shaking off the dust, we can hold our heads high and keep moving forward. But we do have questions. So many questions:
How do we move forward during a dark and dreary day? What can we do when we are suspended in time, our world standing still? Minutes turn to hours, days, and weeks. Still, no answers come. How do we move forward while waiting for our break in the clouds to release us from the shackles that hold us captive to the unknown?
James tells us we should consider it joy when troubles of any kind come our way.
Not just joy-But Great Joy. [James 1:2 NLT]
How are we supposed to consider our troubles Great joy when our hearts are broken into a million pieces? Where is the Great Joy when our problems traumatize us so we cannot even take our next breath? I don’t think James tells us that we’re doing life wrong if we don’t choose joy during our stormy days. I think he’s encouraging us to reach for BIG comfort so that we make a HUGE change.
Sunrise on a cloudy day is not the sunrise we expect. We do not see the beautiful hues of bright pinks, brilliant oranges, and vivid golds painting over the backdrop of a cloudless, powder blue sky. However, we do know the sun did indeed rise. Likewise, sometimes we cannot see God working, but we have assurance through His promises that He is always hard at work.
James reminds us; when our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow.
“So let it grow,” James tells us, because when our “endurance has fully developed – we will be perfect and complete – needing nothing.” [James 1:3-4 NLT]
In the meantime, while we wait for perfection, there are some things we can do to choose Great joy and keep moving forward:
- Keep our eyes firmly planted on Jesus. Don’t look to the right or the left. Look straight ahead at Jesus. Looking away, even for a moment, may cause us to sink.
- Find a licensed counselor-someone trustworthy where there’s a good connection. Counseling is an excellent way to tell your story. Verbalizing is managing your pain.
- Don’t isolate. The first thing we want to do is to stay away from people. We think we will bring them down or burden them with our troubles. Just having people around who care is comforting. Sometimes there’s nothing to say; just sitting with friends is all that is needed.
- Find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Do something out of the ordinary, something new and fresh. Something to help you think in a new way and step away from your circumstance for a little while. Go get a tattoo, audition for a local play; take a class at your local community college. Get outdoors into the fresh air – the universe has a lot to say if you listen.
- Be kind to yourself. We can be our own worst enemies. We are the first to offer grace to others, but giving ourselves grace is difficult. We will have good days and bad days. Celebrate the good, and give ourselves grace on the bad.
- Join a Support Group. Life is hard these days, but you are not alone. There are tons of groups out there, especially now since COVID, via Zoom. Families Anonymous, Alanon, and Celebrate Recovery are a few groups that offer support during difficult times. Sometimes being surrounded by others who are dealing with similar issues can be helpful. It may take a couple of tries before you find your place, but keep trying; there is a group that will be the right fit for you.
In the 1977 Broadway Musical, Little Orphan Annie sings to her dog, Sandy, of hope for a brighter future – Tomorrow. Afterward, she and Sandy went to sleep. I believe God gives us sleep to separate today’s ugliness from the hope of tomorrow. Annie somehow had the assurance of a better day, betting her bottom dollar.
When your day seems gray and lonely; when you can’t see from the tears clouding your eyes; when you can barely take your next breath, find the strength to keep moving forward with the assurance of knowing that tomorrow, the sun will come out.
Peace be with you.