Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Real Hope, Real Spring

“That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world! Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!”  Calvin & Hobbes, comic strip

We're having a warm spell in central Minnesota.  It was up into the 40s today and may even reach 50 tomorrow.  Not bad for mid February.  Not bad at all.

Of course, it will get colder again.  Snow is forecast for Presidents' Day.  I'm glad because we had to postpone Toni's birthday sleigh ride... no fun to go dashing through the slush.

I love warm weather and sunshine even when I know it will come to an end.  Seasonal affective disorder doesn't bring me down too much.  I'm not prone to depression.  I've got other "issues" but that's not one of them.  I can take clouds and cold for quite awhile.

There are probably many reasons for that.  I've had so many advantages in life.  I've been well taken care of since I was small and, really because of many things beyond my control, I have come to trust the Lord through anything that comes my way.  So the fact that it's warm for just a day or two before a plunge back into winter doesn't much bother me.  It's just how I am.  I'm not better or worse than anyone else.

The reality of life is harder for some of us, however, and there are many, many reasons for that.  Today we visited with a young mother who has been through many huge challenges in her life.  Illness and a variety of misfortunes have come her way, one after another.  Yesterday I got called to a neighbor's home.  Could I help them get through to the end of the month?  I've been so blessed.  What right do I have to judge anyone else for having a hard time?  Shouldn't I help when I can?

Such hard times and sad feelings lead many to seek short term happiness, or, as Calvin or Hobbes (don't know which one) said, euphoria--a forgetful sort of happiness that can be attained only through drugs and other addictive behaviors.  We all know it's such a trap, but sometimes we go there anyway because we just don't know how else to cope.  Many times we just don't know what else to do.

Trouble is, like a warm day in February, the happiness of a high, whether it's through spending or gambling or alcohol or sex or drugs or whatever gets us really excited... The trouble is that those things fade so quickly and addictions set in.  Life becomes a roller coaster.  Each downer demands a greater high.  And eventually there is a crash.

Even then, or maybe especially then, there is real hope.  Yesterday a young woman called me.  She shared her testimony about how God, with the help of the people and prayers of Minnesota Teen Challenge, set her free from addiction to her particular "drug of choice."  Today Pastor Bryan Lowe posted a piece on his blog entitled "Chasing Euphoria."  It's worth reading.

So many are trapped in addictions of one sort or another.  Let's join in prayer and action for one another as we face whatever our challenges may be.  Let's not stand apart as if we were better than others.  Let's not throw anyone away.  No one is beyond hope.  No one is beyond the help of God.  And let's pray that those who have crashed will be willing to accept the help that is offered--especially the help that will connect them with the Lord.  Jesus gave his life so all may come to repentance for their sin and receive God's gift of forgiveness and new life.  Let's share that in every way we can.

In that regard, begin praying now about who you can bring to the Dassel-Cokato High School Performing Arts Center on the first day of spring, Sunday, March 20, 2011, 4:00 p.m. There we will hear the praises and testimonies of some who have been brought into God's true and real and new spring!  It's there.  It's real.  There is hope.  For you.

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