Friday, November 26, 2010

Rebuilding After Loss - Part Four - It Pays to Celebrate

"Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8: 10

A new friend of mine recently quit smoking cigarettes.  It has not been easy.  In fact, it has been very, very difficult.  Nevertheless she is succeeding in her inspired effort to remain free of the cigarette habit.  As a part of her recovery, she has joined Nicotine Anonymous - a 12 Step program for recovering smokers.  In N.A., a "chip" is presented as the member hits milestones in their recovery so they can mark and celebrate each one. There is, for example a "30 Day Chip" and so on.  

The other day, my friend was showing some of us a necklace she had made out of the chips she has earned so far.  In this way, she was literally wearing the signs of her victory over cigarettes.  The necklace was clever and attractive.  She told us that some of the people who had taken notice of her necklace had been drawn to it as an accessory.  They did not know what the chips represented.  But she understands the meaning of each chip quite thoroughly.  Show knows that, together, they signify victories God has helped her achieve.  She knows that it really does pay to celebrate.

Celebrating one's victories is an important part of rebuilding after loss. It is not only appropriate to do so, it actually important. That's because celebrations have a way of consolidating gains, building faith and adding value to the sometimes considerable efforts we put into our return from destruction.

Nehemiah understood the value of celebration.  He called the people to embrace joy: "Do not grieve," he told them, "for the joy of the Lord is your strength".  Let me pause to point out that grief is an appropriate response to loss and allowing ones self to grieve well is key to the healing and restoration process. Nevertheless, there is a time (Nehemiah reminds us) when we must stop grieving loss and begin celebrating gains.  It is important to do so, he declares to the people, because the Lord's joy brings further strength -- strength that will be needed as we seek to take our rebuilding process to the next level.

There are many ways to celebrate our restoration milestones. Some deserve to be public and noisy while other are better conducted in a private and intimate manner.  As we approach Thanksgiving, it is an ideal time to pause and consider what it is that God has done or is doing to help you rebuild after loss.  As you take note of these things, you might want to signify or symbolize certain milestones in ways that are meaningful to you. As you do, you will no doubt find that it gives you life, increases your joy and strengthens your grip on future progress.  

"How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord" 
(Psalm 116:12, 13).

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