"For Thy sweet love remembered, such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings."
Sonnet 29, William Shakespeare

      I was as excited as peaches (if peaches get excited) when I recieved this sonnet for my Voice for the Actor class a week or so ago.  We were all assigned a sonnet to work on for the next few weeks.  I think God had a hand in which sonnet I would recieve, seeing that this one pin-points a lot of what I have faced here at school-- especially in the theater department with the competition for roles in the Main Stage Productions that we have had recently.
      A burden that we servants of Christ have to face frequently is being confronted with many people who don't know God (or have any desire to get to know God), and have lives that, from the surface, seem a lot more fulfilling than our own.   When we are in times of distress it's so easy to look at someone else who doesn't know Christ and see that they don't have to deal with our garbage, and wonder how on earth that could be possible.  The worst is when I see myself trying to be an example of Christ to people who seem to have it figured out much more than I do, who seem so much more content with their current circumstances.  How do you tell a person about a better alternative (the only one that secures eternal life) when their life is going so much smoother?  The Apostle Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus for that matter, are great examples of how the closer we get to God, the more our earthly lives start to crumble: Paul was a man of respect in the Jewish Religion before he came to know Jesus, and from there had a very unstable earthly life and ended up dying in jail;  John the Baptist got his head removed;  Jesus was crucified.  All of these lives would seem tragic, but we know that they were carrying out what God had planned for them and we rejoice in their accomplishments despite their seemingly sorry end. With these things in mind, I found a great way to relate to my sonnet:

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
When my life sucks and people can see it
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
I sit and cry out of self pity
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And cry out to God who seems to be  ignoring me, but I guess my cries are pointless anyway
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
So I sink into more self pity and get even more mad about how my life is just so terrible
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope
So I start looking at other people, and I wish I could be like that person,  who has a more hopeful circumstance
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
I wish I was as good looking, and gosh, they have so many friends! Why am I so lonely?
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
They are so much more talented (art) and intelligent (scope) then me.
With what I most enjoy contented least.
Nothing I ever do seems to have any meaning any more.
Yet in these thoughts, myself almost despising
Haply I think on thee, and then my state
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven's gate.
Yet, in these times of severe self pity, I might think about you, and then I can rejoice in my circumstances
    For Thy sweet love remembered, such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Because when I remember that Jesus died for me, lives in me, LOVES ME, and has purpose for my life, I can be content! And then my life seems to be much more fulfulling and have so much more purpose, that I wouldn't want it any other way.
      When I look at myself I start looking at other people.  I start seeing things I want in other people, and forget to be content with what given me as his servant.  But when I remember Jesus' love for me and start thinking about him, I realise that my life is in His hands, and I can rejoice in what He has given me.  That's why Paul can rejoice in prison, why Jesus calls John the Baptist the greatest man to have ever lived,  and Jesus Himself can be raised from the dead, abolish death, and give us eternal life.  Suddenly our suffering seems very small, when we compare it to the complete beauty of His individual plans for our lives.
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