I’m not a Jolly Jane when I wake up in the morning. All my problems and worries immediately come flooding into my brain. Or, I am angrily awakened by neighborhood noise such as garbage trucks, landscapers, or birds chirping in the nest they decided to build right outside my bedroom window. My sentiment is frequently something like: Ugh, another depressing day on planet earth. I didn’t ask to be here.
I tend to lean negative so I doubt I will ever be one of those people who excitedly jumps out of bed ready to greet a new day. I guess I can’t help but see reality. A teacher I would share my woes with in high school would tell me, “Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, sometimes it’s the pits!” Exactly. I don’t like to sugar-coat things.
Growing up, I was influenced, albeit a little too much, by my grandmother who repeatedly warned in German, “After laughing comes crying!” (Nach dem Lachen kommt das Weinen.) In other words, don’t get too happy because something bad is right around the corner to steal your joy. As if being a punishment for daring to be happy. I suppose this is understandable from someone who had a difficult life and survived World War I and II.
This kind of thinking does paralyze a person and sometimes prevents them from getting things done. It also makes for stressful vacations.
“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Many years ago, someone suggested I flip the words in my grandmother’s saying to “After crying comes laughing”. I was stunned. I never thought of that! Yet at the same time, I was also kind of angry. That’s not how the saying goes!
Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear that back then. That one phrase was so ingrained in me and had taken over my life for so long. It takes a lot of concerted effort to change thoughts and habits we have had for years. I think I only recently made the connection that there is a Bible verse that is the exact opposite of my grandmother’s words! “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126:5) It’s amazing! Can it actually work the other way around?
I am further reminded of the man in the Bible that was healed at the pool of Bethesda. He had been sick for 38 years. He sure was stuck in his situation. Jesus approached him and asked him, “Do you want to be healed”? The man replied by saying he couldn’t get his mat into the healing waters and that there was no one to help him, but he did want to be healed. (John 5:1-15)
Maybe you are stuck in a bad job, a bad relationship, or have a chronic illness. Whatever it is, there are many reasons that can keep us “sick” or stuck. We must ask ourselves: Do we want to get well? Do we want things to change? At what cost? It may not just be due to a lack of courage or laziness. Is our “sickness” serving some purpose or benefit?
If we do want to be healed, we must “pick up our mat” as Jesus instructed the man at the pool of Bethesda. Getting up and walking, is the first step on the journey to recovery or change. It’s not always easy or instant, but it is possible.
Ironically, I wrote much of this article before I got out of bed one morning and when I went downstairs my husband greeted me in a jollier than usual mood with “Life is good. You will be having a fantastic breakfast I am going to make for you.” Seemed like one of those God coincidences to me. Something horrible doesn’t always have to be around the corner. Maybe we can just enjoy life.
Jesus offers us healing for our bodies and our souls. Do we want to laugh again after crying? Do we want to reap joy after sorrow? Jesus asks all of us, “Do you want to be healed?