How To Celebrate When Life Is Seriously Hard

I’m writing in tears this morning.

My dad just called. His best friend’s wife passed away quite unexpectedly last night.

Life is seriously hard at times.

My brother’s car was stolen from Seattle a few days ago while he’s away traveling.
A friend’s neighbor trapped her cat and released it 50 miles from their home.
Children are shot at schools. People take their own lives.
Families crumble. Bank accounts dwindle.
Grandkids don’t call their grandparents. Promotions at work aren’t received.
Communities starve. People are sold into slavery.
Children are abused. Babies pass on before birth.
Natural disasters erase towns. Wars crush nations.

Life in our world is hard…but…

Now is the time to celebrate.

Now is the time to be relentless.

And before you think I’m foolish for suggesting celebration when life is seriously hard —
please hear me out.

Difficulties will become part of our story. No life remains untouched by sorrow.

— BUT — we can let them take hold and breed bitterness in our soul or we can embrace frustration and sadness for a time and then hope against all hope. We can let these things blacken our outlook on life or we can choose a different way.

We don’t need fake happy.
We need steady, rebellious celebration and infusions of joy in affliction.

Hard things don’t make sense. They probably never will. But here’s the thing…

Our celebration is a refusal to let darkness win.

It is a slap on evil’s face.

It’s what we desperately need.

We need your celebration and hope no matter how tiny and frail it might feel right now.

How do we celebrate when life is seriously hard?

It is deeply appropriate to acknowledge what is still good in your life.

Celebration in sorrow can be as simple as gratefulness for your next breath. For the family and friends still in your life. For the roof over your head and the food on your table. For the sun that warms your skin and the breeze that calms your soul.

It can be a heartfelt hug between neighbors. It can be choosing to show mercy when you’d rather show hate. Gathering friends around your table — feeding them well and offering them comfort. Lighting a candle on a dark day. Speaking gently when anger is easier. Talking a walk when you’d rather cry on the couch. Giving your presence when sadness strikes.

There is hope and it’s available to you. Restoration wells up when we point to the good and hold space for moments of hope that overshadow misery.

I’ll leave you with this verse:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” 2 Cor. 4:8-9

And this song:

13 comments… add one

  • Deborah Penner July 3, 2014, 3:41 pm

    Yes …. celebrate in the midst of deep pain, deep sorrow … including the fact that tears flow. The flow of tears moves the sorrow through and is a yes to life. ))))))) Much love, Alysa (((((((

    • Deborah Penner July 3, 2014, 3:43 pm

      ))))))) Alysa ((((((( (just to make sure you receive the full feeling sense of the digital hug … the visual above detracts some how for … if not consider your self hugged twice .. what the heck … consider yourself hugged twice anyway !!!

    • Alysa July 3, 2014, 4:30 pm

      Much love to you! Thanks, Deborah! “Yes to life.” << love this

  • Laura July 3, 2014, 5:50 pm

    You are awesome. I’ve always though about this kind of stuff, and have wondered why others would say, “I can’t believe in/worship a God that allows this kind of stuff to happen.”

    And I’ve always known, it’s not something God allows, it’s just the ongoing battle of good vs. evil. We win some battles and we lose some battles, and some things we deem “bad” like a loved one dying might be the work of God, to bring them home and relieve them of pain, and other things like human trafficking I believe are just evil waging it war.

    And how you stated “We need steady, rebellious celebration and infusions of joy in affliction. Our celebration is a refusal to let darkness win.” That is the KEY. That is how we carry on, rebelling against the darkness and persisting to tip the scales in favor of GOOD & GOD.

    Sending you hugs, you warrior woman! <3

    • Alysa July 3, 2014, 7:30 pm

      Loved your thoughts and reflection on this post. The battle surely is ongoing. Grateful to know you’re a rebellious joy spreader too! Thanks for the hugs!

  • Kristi July 3, 2014, 8:15 pm

    Oh girl. If it weren’t for the constant flow of children running through my door this afternoon, I’d be crying in worship to my God RIGHT NOW. Your words here are true and beautiful and fill me with gratitude. How hard life has been, yes, but my tears today are that of joy–the deepest of joy that only comes from living through the darkest of nights. How I love this victory verse…“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Now that’s a reason to celebrate!!!

    • Alysa July 4, 2014, 10:54 am

      So glad to hear that gratitude is washing over you! Love that verse. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Don’t be surprised when life is hard or when trouble comes your way. It’s coming. But you can have hope and peace through it all.”

      Here’s another one I love:
      “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27

      Celebrating with you in the hard times, friend!

  • Fiona July 4, 2014, 3:45 am

    This is such a good reminder, it’s so easy to get bogged down and feel sorry for oneself. Thanks Alysa for always being encouraging and positive and reminding us of what really counts. Take care xx

    • Alysa July 4, 2014, 10:59 am

      It IS easy to let fear and sorrow overwhelm us, isn’t it? Grateful I could encourage you today Finoa! And can I just say – I LOVE your recent post about your grandmother’s recipe book. What cherished memories you have of her — and that you’re making with your own kids!

  • Trina July 4, 2014, 8:48 pm

    I am so sorry for that news. And thank you for turning a hard time into this beautiful post. Shauna Niequit wrote something that stuck with me about recognizing that “these are the good times even while they’re the bad times.” Appreciate your emphasis on celebration. Gives a little direction on finding that allusive joy.

    Thank you, and praying for your family and your dad’s friend!

    • Alysa July 7, 2014, 12:43 pm

      I love Shauna’s words on celebration! Thanks so much for the prayers.

  • Amber November 28, 2014, 6:19 pm

    Last year my Dad was fighting cancer throughout the holidays and I was reminded of the angels singing tidings of comfort and joy. The reason for hope after death made the story of Christmas so much more precious.

    • Alysa November 29, 2014, 8:22 am

      That’s such a lovely thought Amber. Thank you!

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