“O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things…Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.” Psalms 98:1a,4
There are many occasions for Christians to celebrate. Perhaps we feel hesitant to demonstrate feelings of joy when we know how much work God still has to do on us…but it is a normal thing for God’s children to celebrate. The Old Testament gives instructions for many “holy days” that often call for the remembering of what God has done in the past. It is a gathering of thanksgiving.
This summer will be filled with many opportunities for spontaneous, as well as well-choreographed outbreaks of gratitude:
Weddings – a time of blessing on the new couple, but also a call for married couples to be reminded of their vows and dreams, and the Christian community to remember the need to support families.
Funerals – The death of one of God’s children is a time for tears over the loss, but also a time of giving thanks for the gift of life; it is a call for all to live life as a treasure.
Holidays – are often set to remind of past successes and sacrifices. It is a time to enjoy family and friends, but take time to recall the “why” of the day.
Births – Every new child is God’s affirmation that He is still in the creating business and that he will bless the future. The family of faith has a new reason for joy and a new responsibility to nurture faith.
In personal ways, there are times to celebrate. It encourages gratitude and that produces joy.
- While looking at challenging goals – do not miss the opportunity to remember how far you have come.
- Identify every encouragement that has helped bring success, such as people, programs, studies etc.
- Build a tradition of celebrating success, i.e. write a letter, journal, make a contribution to a cherished Christian cause etc. to mark the event.
- Select a favorite scripture that reflects your heart’s joy and memorize it. Look in your Bible concordance under words like: rejoice, thanksgiving, etc.
For Others, mark their successes with memory markers.
- Thoughtfulness is not always expensive or time consuming. Personal notes, voice mail or timely emails all make special people feel special at special times.
- Keep your calendar updated with key events in others’ lives – birthdays, anniversaries, and even remembering special people who have gone to be with the Lord.
- Never miss the opportunity to make an event a party. Invite a small group of their closest friends; use your best dishes [they are enjoyed if used more than stored]. Give small memorable gifts like a favorite potted plant or a special recipe, and perhaps include baggies of the ingredients.
There are many struggles that are part of the Christian journey, but a life of faith without celebration is like a time of worship without a song.
For He has done great things!
It will do your soul good; it will cause our hurting, cynical and curious world to wonder what He is up to!
Dr. Bill Heston
Howard Payne University
Dr. William Heston was minister of pastoral care at Houston’s First Baptist Church; clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a marriage therapist licensed by the state of Texas. He has also led seminars at First Place Conferences.