Yesterday I talked about exchanging thoughts. Directed by the exercise for Day 19 in 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, the objective was to come up with three encouraging scriptures to memorize and substitue for negative thoughts. That was good. What I left out is, in my opinion, even better because it feels more doable in a crisis. Have a go-to mantra such as “I trust God,” “God is with me,” “This is temporary.” Just a few words, easy to reach for in a pinch. My favorites are “I trust God,” and “This is temporary,” both essential to sanity in the time of the novel Corona Virus.
Joy looks different in times like these. But that’s okay. Maybe it’s not about the ear-to-ear grin so much as the confidence and determination to know and understand your purpose and destiny.
On Day 20 we learn about visualization. Tommy Newberry explains it as a term that simply means “imagining the future.” He says we all do it many times during the day. Usually we call it worry, but on the positive side it’s a process that athletes, entrepreneurs, and business leaders use to bring about the future they desire. Continuing to imagine reaching the goal keeps them focused and on task as they slog through day-to-day tasks that bring the vision to life. The mental picture keeps hope and joy alive in difficult times.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us about the greatest example of visualization. Our Lord, Jesus Himself. The Amplified Verson states it like this, “[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority and the completion of His work].
Jesus did not skip lightheartedly to the cross. He sweat great drops of blood in agony as he pictured his death on the cross. This negative image threatened his mission, but he “disregarded the shame,” put his eyes on the goal and turned the situation around to focus on the joyful eternal vision of purpose fulfilled and completed his mission.
So, if the recent events in the world, or those in your personal sphere, have you filled with fear or dread, it’s okay. Start where you are and catch a vision of the future. Romans 8:28 (NLT) states, “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God’s purpose for you is that you will love him and love others; that you bring glory to his name by how you live. What a wonderful opportunity to show the world where your hope lies.
For today’s exercise, Newberry encourages us to imagine using your talents to accomplish something really important to you. What would it look like? Who would be helped as a result of your efforts? He urges you to really put a lot of detail into this visualization. Describe all the emotions you will experience when you achieve this special goal.
Where are you today? Self-isolating, worried about your job and finances? Afraid you might contract COVID-19 and die or infect people you love? Stop. Raise your sights a little higher and look to the good future God has promised you. Imagine it in every detail. Keep it before your eyes as you walk through this uncharted territory. As Christians, no matter how unsettling the circumstances may be, we can look past them toward “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 NKJV).
What wonderful promises do you see in your future?