Marie Alvero is a former missionary to Africa and Mexico. She currently lives a happy, busy life with her husband and children in Central Texas, USA.
Who would have thought that I’d be writing an article on the topic of happiness and satisfaction after everything that we have been through this year due to the COVID-19 virus? After having experienced so much insecurity and uncertainty in the air, how could that be a time to think about happiness?
Do you ever feel like, in order to meet your own expectations and those of others, you’d have to work relentlessly, push through the tired, ignore the stress—and you still might come up short? The demands will always outweigh the resources. Just thinking about this is stressful, yet it is under exactly this stress that we spend most of our time.
I was standing in the checkout line at one of our local stores and noticed the lady ahead of me was wearing a brightly colored T-shirt with a Bible verse on it. Then when she thanked the cashier, she said, “Dear, I hope you know Jesus loves you!”
Every year, at Christmastime, my husband has to endure my private tradition of watching Love, Actually.1 The movie weaves together several stories in an entirely predictable, mushy way. But each time I watch it I am touched by a different part of the story. I try to get my husband excited about this, but he is not having it! I know this makes me a bit sappy, but I just don’t get how someone can’t be drawn in by this display of love, tenderness and warmth.
Today I get the privilege of hosting five families for dinner. We’ve known each other for the better part of our lives, and tonight we’ll all come together in joyful community. I look forward to these kinds of evenings relaxing with friends and family. This is where my true wealth lies!
Maybe Peter thought he was going to stump Jesus when he asked the question “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” He wanted a number, some quantification of when enough was enough and forgiveness was spent. Peter throws out a number, “Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus responds, “but seventy times seven!”1
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount,1 one of the most quoted orations of all time, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
So what is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who comes into a situation that is stressful, angry, or disturbed and creates peace. This is hard and requires courage.
For most of my life I’ve described my faith as a “Jesus-loves-me-this-I-know” type of faith. Jesus said He loved me. The Bible tells me so. I didn’t have a lot of questions. And when I did I was usually satisfied with answers like “only God knows” or “you just have to take this one by faith.” In other words, logic may not apply here, but believe anyway. I was surprisingly okay with this.
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”1
I love this prayer because it expresses a need for God on a primal level, like a deer searching for water. Thirst is an involuntary reaction, and a need that requires fulfillment.
A few months ago, on a muggy Saturday, our family made the much-anticipated trip to a big theme park. Our teenagers, undaunted by hot sun and crowds, were looking forward to a day adventuring on roller coasters and other adrenaline-surging rides, so as soon as we entered the park, we headed straight for the biggest, loopiest roller coaster of all.