Monday, September 7, 2015

Sunshine Amidst the Downpour

A few years ago, as I was working in my home office, it began to rain. I'm talking downpour. Oddly enough, the sun was shining the entire time. It was such a beautiful sight, I stopped writing to enjoy that brief moment in time. I used to focus on the downpour (rain and flat ironed hair do not mix!), now I notice the sun and am soothed by the storm. Think about life as a Christian. Jesus wants us to understand He is always with us, in the darkest of storms and on bright, sunny days. Negative people will always be in our lives trying to upset us, demean us, or persecute us no matter how kind and loving we are. They see our joyfulness which only enhances their state of misery. How do we handle people trying to "catch" us, ready to condemn? Well, we have two choices. Either fall into the darkness they so desperately want us to share, or, rely on Jesus and the joy faith in Him provides, offering love and compassion. Understand offering love and kindness doesn't guarantee the same in return. But, I aspire to see the sunshine amidst the downpour and soothing sound of the rain. I pray those in darkness choose to do the same someday.

In todays Gospel (Luke 6:6-11), Jesus chooses to heal a man despite the hatred of those trying to "catch" Him as evidence to persecute Him:

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us." And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Lessons in Love, she affirms we must strive to see through condemnation from others:

"We see that the Pharisees were looking to condemn. Remember that this is the opposite of what Jesus did. Jesus looked to save. We must look for evidence of hope and potential in those around us. Some search constantly for evidence of unholiness in others. I think this might be their way of trying to fuel or protect their superiority or obtaining value for themselves in an unhealthy way. Superiority is something that requires constant feeding, like an addiction. Just as a cigarette smoker needs a nicotine fix periodically, a superiority addict needs to look down on someone periodically. Anyone will do."

Lay apostles, it is so easy to fall into the negative behavior of loved ones, friends or co-workers. Even the negative behavior of a salesperson in the mall. When confronted by someone trying to tear me down or ruin my mood, I try to think of the hurt or pain this person is suffering from causing the nastiness. Maybe they don't have Jesus to comfort them. Maybe they don't have the love of family to cushion the fall. We have no idea where this person has been, even if it is someone living in our own household. So, love unconditionally and don't hold condemnation from others internally. More than likely, the reaction is from an open wound and they don't know how or haven't taken the time to heal it. Shine a little sunshine. Shine Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to look past condemnation to the hurt behind the words. And for compassion when others only want to see me fall.

God bless,

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