So I finally did it. I gave up all social media. Well, it’s only been about two months, but I can certainly share that not only am I more productive, but I also feel better. I guess you can say I’m happier.
In today’s world of mindfulness and a greater focus on the power of positive thinking, sometimes I feel a bit pressured to maintain a state of happiness at all times. Sometimes I find myself focusing on things that could go wrong, even if they actually never do. Academics describe this as problem-centric thinking. Yet the Lord instructed the Israelites to rejoice in all the good that the Lord their God had given to them and to their house (Deuteronomy 26:11).
During this reflective season of Lent, I find this to be an important reminder, and I am not the only one—even the Israelites needed such a reminder: Rejoice! After all, they had been through famine, plagues, slavery, and wars.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” It sounds so elegant and sophisticated. When is the last time I truly rejoiced? The dictionary reminds me that the word “rejoice” means to be glad or to take delight. This sounds like more than just happiness to me: take delight in all the good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that to them that love God all things work together food good, even to them that are called according to His purpose.” Things that I consider good in my life incentivize me and give me energy—help to motivate me. Yet the apostle Paul acknowledges that even things I may consider bad may actually be for my spiritual good: an injury, a broken relationship, a missed opportunity, or even losing a job. These isolated events can seem so overwhelming and even crippling at times, yet they are woven together like threads of a tapestry as part of God’s overall plan for our lives.
So what is your perspective this Lenten season? How often do you stop to identify the things for which you are grateful? What do you need to give up so that you can better acknowledge all the good in your life? In what or in whom will you rejoice?
Justin B. Dean
Appointed readings for today: Deuteronomy 26: 1-11, Psalm 91: 1-2, 9-16, Luke 4:1-13