Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
February 14th, Valentine’s Day just passed. The stores were filled with cards, chocolates, jewelry and flowers even before the Christmas holiday decorations were discounted and limited to the back corners and shelves. Restaurants posted signs and ads with special features and offers to lure you to their place for the perfect evening out. Everywhere you looked you saw images of happy couples, wrapped gifts and candlelit tables raising the expectations for many people in anticipation of the date of February 14th. But what happens when that day arrives and we find ourselves disappointed because reality doesn’t meet expectation? Instead of celebrating, we find ourselves vicariously living through movies, commercials and Facebook images. This is just one day in the entire year, but it is an example of how many individuals place their hopes and dreams on the outcomes of one single date.
Have you ever thought about how a single calendar date can dominate and control your emotions, your mood and your expectations? Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other dates typically hold special meaning in our lives. The emotions that surround these days can be built on positive memories and the anticipation of new experiences. On the other hand, dates that commemorate losses, tragedies and other life changing experiences evoke emotions of sorrow and sometimes regret. When these events occur near or on a specific holiday, it can have a transforming effect on the mood of that day. Having experienced several losses since the holiday season, started me thinking; how does a date that brings joy and love into so many lives become a catalyst for loneliness, pain and despair for others?
There are many situations that separate us from the blessings of specific dates. These can be events in our control and events that control us. Let’s face it, life’s situations have the ability to change the ways we face particular dates and they are not necessarily limited to the traditional holidays. The dates commemorating life changing events are typically unique to each individual. They are etched in our memories and have the ability to evoke emotions that shock and confuse us, shadowing that date each time it arrives. In fact, the actual date can catch us off guard when we see it scroll on the TV or appear on our digital device. Likewise, the birth of a new family member or the marriage of a happy couple can change an ordinary date to one with memories of joy and celebration.
No matter what memories or emotions are associated with a date, our Savior does not want us to suffer alone. He grieves when we allow the culture to dominate our expectations for a specific date. He desires to comfort us in our sorrows and celebrate with us our joys throughout all the cycles of the year. One of my life support verses is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Many times this is the only part of the verse that we will remember. But if you go on to read the entire passage the next verses are instructions on how to tap into His presence and power. Verses 12 and 13 say “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
As you experience dates that commemorate loneliness, grief, pain, or sorrow, remember that you are not alone. Your Savior Jesus experienced pain, loneliness, grief and sorrow and He yearns to comfort you in all your days. Call on Him, seek Him with your whole heart and He will find you for He has a plan for you, a plan to give you a hope and a future!
The dates for Lent began this week. This is the period of time that we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter. But rather than getting caught up on the calendar dates, the expectations or the “required” sacrifices, how about focusing on seeking God with your whole heart. What does that look like?
Dear Lord, I know that my sight can become narrowly focused, I see a date and sometimes I can only focus on the unmet expectations, the losses, the sorrow and the pain. Instead of worrying about dates’ expectations, help me make each date begin and end with You. I ask you to help me seek you with my whole heart so when I call upon your name, I will be able to hear You and feel Your loving presence. Amen