Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
I have a tendency to dwell on criticism and shrug off positive comments. Instead of remembering my achievements, my mind likes to replay moments when I made a mistake. I give more attention to the one “thorn in my side” than the many people in my life who help me bloom. Overall, I like to think I’m a positive person, but I confess there are times when the glass seems half-full. Instead of counting successful endeavors, I rue my failures. And I don’t think I’m alone.
I counsel people all the time who seemingly have everything going for them, but still aren’t content. People who in their own words say, “I should be happy, but I’m not.” I work with college students trying to discern their future and one of the first road-blocks we have to overcome is a fear of failure. I have witnessed countless family structures whose entire system is guided not by years of love and devotion, but by that one time grandma said something hateful.
There is something about us as people that makes us prone to dwell on the negative and focus on frustration, rather than live in joy.
Jesus must have known we would be like this – that criticism would creep under our skin and that rejection would sting for a while – because when he sends 70 disciples out into the world he tells them this…
He says, “Look, I’m sending you out into a pretty scary world. In fact, you’re kind of like lambs in the midst of wolves. So do this: when you enter a new place say, ‘Peace.’ If they welcome you, stay there awhile. Eat, drink, and cure the sick. Don’t leave too soon. Don’t hop about. Now, if you say, ‘Peace,’ and they don’t receive it, just move on. Don’t dwell. Don’t think twice. Just keep moving forward.” Luke 10:1-11 (my paraphrase).
An interesting thing happened when those disciples came home. Scripture says, “They returned with joy.” (Luke 10:16) Jesus responds to their joy with an even greater reason to be happy. He says, “Don’t just be happy about this. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 10:20.
While we tend to replay rejection and failure, Jesus says, “Get over it.” Jesus invites us to dwell in joy, to remain hopeful, and count our successes. Jesus encourages his disciples to abide in the positive and to stay awhile when things are good.
I don’t know where you’re at today. Maybe you’re replaying a snide remark from a colleague or remembering hurtful words uttered by a loved one. Maybe you’re regretting a job you didn’t get or wishing a friend accepted your last invitation. Wherever you are, may you hear Jesus’ call to dwell in joy. May you be moved from dark thoughts to visions of a bright future.
After all, you are loved. You are forgiven. You are cherished. You are called. You are God’s. Your name has have been inscribed in heaven.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.