My most used emojis didn’t come as a surprise:
- Exploding head
- Crying face
- Red love heart
- Laughing face
- Rolling eyes
The last one struck me most – I was using it a lot!
I was acutely aware that during the restrictions and frustrations of lockdown life I had become an irritable, grouchy eye-roller!
About that time a message was given at (Zoom) church on the following verses:
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15 ESV, italics added).
We were encouraged not to be grumblers and moaners when things weren’t going our way, but, instead, to be Christians who radiated light in a dark world.
A summary was given to help us remember the verses – SHINE, don’t WHINE!
These words struck me, and I decided it was time to think positively:
- Be grateful for what you’ve got
- Enjoy a slower pace of life
- Appreciate those you love
- Bad times don’t last
were all positive messages I tried to embrace.
Time went on and restrictions tightened again, and the positivity spluttered and failed.
But still the verses from Philippians resonated – surely there must be another way to live up to them?
How could I shine and not whine?
Then I remembered that in Exodus chapter 34 Moses was shining. He came down from Mount Sinai and “did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (v.29 ESV, italics added).
This was the secret – not biting the lip and restraining the eye roll and thinking positive thoughts but spending time with God. Reading the Bible, praying, listening to Bible teaching, listening to worship songs and hymns and talking to others about Him.
Then a change starts from the inside out. Then gratitude comes easily, and negative thoughts are instinctively reframed as positive.
Suddenly some light sparked through and there was a little bit more shine than whine.
The end of 2020 brought news of a vaccine and “light at the end of the tunnel”. A hope that “normal life” might eventually resume. A hope that we almost feared to think of.
Because right then we were still in the tunnel. And, for some, the tunnel was very dark.
So, how should we behave while under restrictions and disappointments? How should we live as we wait for the “light at the end of the tunnel”?
These verses challenge us to be lights IN the tunnel. We can shed light reflected from the very source of light Himself working through us. We can be lights that will help others through the darkness. We can be lights to a dark world which does not know God.
These times will pass – as we live through them and eventually come out the other end and reflect upon them, how much better it will be if we have raised our eyes to God instead of rolling them in irritation and despair. How much better it will be if we have been like Moses with shining face rather than someone who has railed in bitterness.
How much better if we have been able to shine and not whine!