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Savor the Pain

I was once watching a romantic comedy (the name escapes me, surprisingly) with my beautiful bride, when one of the characters said something that woke me up, that is, caught my attention.  Our hero (whose name I don’t remember) had just failed miserably in his scheme to win the girl of his dreams.  While drowning his sorrows, a friend tells him to: "Savor the pain." 

Savor the pain!?  Why on earth would he want to do that?  Pain hurts.  Pain is what he was trying to forget.  Pain is bad.

However, the character's point was that the disaster that had just occurred was a life experience, and although it turned out poorly, our hero needed to make the most of the moment.  I believe this is what Tennyson was trying to convey when he penned these words: 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Savoring the moment gives us a life experience, a memory to look back upon.  Perhaps a lesson learned, perhaps a good laugh at the silliness of our youth, perhaps just a smile at the everyday joys of life.

Stop and smell the roses
Have you ever actually done that?  Just stopped and smelled the roses (and not post a selfie with the roses on Facebook).  Just savoring the moment.  When’s the last time you did that?  This world is full of God’s beauty.  Even His “ugly” creations have a fascinating beauty to them.  Sadly, we are often too busy to notice.  Why is this?

What’s next?
Our whole childhood seems to be built around preparing for the future:  

We gotta go to school…
…gotta do the extra-curricular activities…
…gotta make valedictorian…
…so we can get the recommendations…
…so we can go to Harvard…
…so we can get that high-paying job…
…so we can get that big house…
…with 3 cars in the driveway…
…and a boat in the dock in the backyard…
…because we have waterfront property…

I know a man who did it all perfectly.  He went to Harvard Law School. He had a wonderful wife who put him through school. He got that successful job making the big bucks.  He had accomplished all he ever thought about before he was thirty years old.  

He was miserable. 

He was always looking to what’s next.  Then, when he made it to the finish line, there was no more next.  So he created a new next by leaving his wife for another woman.  Unfortunately, he had never learned how to enjoy what he already had. This man claimed to be a Christian.  

I don’t think he’s alone in his thinking.  If we’re not careful, we can all fall prey to living our lives in the future.  If we’re always looking to the future, we miss the moment that’s happening right in front of us.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have 
learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do 
everything through him who gives me strength.  (Phil 4:12-13)

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Do you ever find yourself worrying about what the future holds? If you can’t think of anything to worry about, just flip on the TV or check the news feed on your phone.  There will be somebody there with a sensational story to get the worry juices flowing:
•    Wars (and rumors of wars)
•    The state of the economy (always bad)
•    Your health (and how you’re ruining it)

We Americans seem to have a penchant for bad news, so much so that it can interfere with our enjoyment of the blessings of this life.  But, alas, this isn’t something us Americans have originated.  Solomon warned us of this long ago:

I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men:
God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing 
his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger 
enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.  (Eccl 6:1-2)

Fortunately, God has given us the remedy to all this bad news.  It’s called the Good News. And if we let it do its job, the rest will take care of itself:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?'  or 'What shall we wear?' … But seek first the kingdom of God and 
his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not 
be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Mat 6:31,33-34)

All that really matters has already been taken care of for us.  All we need to do is accept it, embrace it, and rejoice in it!

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard 
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)

Let’s not live our lives in the future.  Let’s learn to savor the pain!  And the joy!  And the peace that passes all understanding!    

 - Phil Parker