I will never forget the afternoon I took my grandson, Logan, to 3 Sisters, our local self-serve frozen yogurt bar. You could almost feel the electricity of excitement exuding from his four-year-old body.
Right as we walked in the door—and with the biggest grin I’d ever seen on his lit-up face—he exclaimed, “This is gonna be sooooooo gooooood!!!”
Seeing this little guy filled with anticipation over the party his taste buds were about to throw thrilled his Honey to no end, as you may well imagine.
As we walked past the bar of tantalizing toppings toward the yogurt dispensers, his eyes and excitement grew. And he said it again: This is gonna be sooooooo gooooood!
After I filled our tubs with a creamy confection, Logan made a beeline to the toppings. He picked out a few sugary sprinkles, but then he spotted the ultimate, the crème de la crème of all “little boy” toppings—a blue and white gummy snake, at least six inches long, a half-inch thick, and a red tongue.
I could hardly believe how big it was myself.
Can I have a gummy snake, Honey?
That’s what I get for picking out a term of endearment for my grandparent name. A name I never get tired of hearing (well, mostly). A name that when I hear it, has a tendency to blur my good judgment.
I started to say, “No, it’s way too big. If you eat all of it, you will get a tummy-ache.” But he was so excited, I just couldn’t say no.
So instead I said, “It’s really big Logan. You can have one, but you can’t eat it all today.” (How could I resist that face?)
We ended up taking well over half the snake home, putting it in the freezer, and eating the rest of it later (I even helped). And thank goodness, there was no tummy ache.
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder. It seemed as though his anticipation of the enjoyment of the yogurt and its crowning candy reptile was more enjoyable than the actual eating of it.
Just this morning as I was hanging up laundry, I could smell the sweet potatoes baking in our oven and could hardly wait for them to be done. I love loading them up with cinnamon and pecan pieces and then savoring every delectable bite.
And there’s just something about that indescribably wonderful aroma filling your home on a cold November morning. It brought back sweet holiday memories.
As soon as they came out of the oven, I carefully peeled them, inhaled their fragrance as the steam rose off of them, and mashed them with a fork.
I should have worn a bib. I was drooling profusely.
And I wasn’t disappointed. My loaded sweet potato, hamburger patty, and cucumber lunch was scrumptious!
But just like Logan’s gummy snake treat, as delicious as my lunch was, I believe the anticipation of its enjoyment might have been even sweeter than the actual consuming of it. It certainly lasted longer!
Sometimes, the most enjoyable part of something we are looking forward to is the anticipation of it.
I’m not the only one who thinks that. Just ask one of the world’s leading thought experts, none other than Winnie-the-Pooh:
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”—A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
The moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were . . . Ahhh! Sweet anticipation.
Brain science has proven that the anticipation of a desirable event actually boosts a person’s happiness by lighting up the pleasure centers in our brain through the release of dopamine.
Anticipation is a gift from God that He has hard-wired into our brains to cause us to experience pleasure. Positive anticipation, that is. I will save the topic of negative anticipation and its effects for a later post.
In our day and age, with so much suffering going on in this world and in our own neck of the woods, we need to regularly experience the gift of positive anticipation.
The hope of brighter days to come.
There are people I know who are wondering how they are going to scrape enough change together to buy even one Christmas gift.
Friends who are preparing to undergo chemo treatments, wondering how their body is going to respond.
Others who are about to spend their first Thanksgiving and Christmas without their nine-year-old daughter who recently lost her battle with osteosarcoma.
Friends who still don’t know what happened to their teenage son—who went missing last year on Thanksgiving Eve (see Faith in the Midst of a Cloud of Unknowing).
My heart breaks for those who are suffering and my prayers are with them as they enter into the 2017 holiday season.
This will likely sound cliché, but I don’t know how anyone can survive the sufferings of this present time without the hope of brighter days to come.
The mind-blowing hope that can only be found in the eternal embrace of Jesus Christ.
In Romans 8:13, the apostle Paul writes, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (NKJV).
For those of you who are going through incredibly difficult times, this Scripture might be difficult for you to wrap your minds around.
But I want to encourage you to hang on. Hang on to every Word that He gives you about your glorious future in Him.
Here are five of my favorite Scriptures which speak about what believers in Christ have to look forward to:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:1-5 NASB).
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NASB).
“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9 NASB).
“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18 NASB).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-4).
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4 NASB).
Even though I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the pure ecstasy that awaits every believer in Christ in Heaven, I do know one thing for sure: It’s gonna be sooooooo goooooood!
Oh, and another thing: I’m convinced that there is no way our anticipation of Heaven could be more enjoyable than the actual experience of it!
Question: What is your favorite Scripture that empowers you to keep hanging on in the midst of incredible suffering?
Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!
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