But How Do I “Rejoice Always?”
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
“I have been living without the use of my hands and legs for fifty years!” Joni Eareckson Tada recently wrote.
When she first broke her neck as a teenager, she met a guy who had been in a wheelchair for eight years – unimaginable to her at the time. And yet today this vibrant woman remains full of JOY.
How has she been able to do what the Bible commands, “Rejoice always” ? (1 Thessalonians 5.16)
Joni answers, “I shake my head in amazement, look back and wonder, how did I make it to this point? And how have I done it, for the most part, with a smile? It’s all because of God, His grace, and loving Christians. The grace-filled believers that God brought into my life made all the difference.”
Do you find it hard to Be Thankful in difficult times?
In this verse Paul was writing to people in distress. After the Romans overtook Thessalonica, they stripped the people and the territory of everything valuable. They pillaged resources, then set into place a prohibition for trade between districts which totally impoverished the Thessalonians.
Can you imagine how a command to “rejoice always” went over?
Kind of like today?
But Paul was able to empathize with them because he, too, had been there. “Over the course of his life, Paul is tossed into prison and brutally beaten on multiple occasions, shipwrecked, and nearly drowned. His life is marked by affliction and controversy, his body shaped by exhaustion, thirst, and hunger. Yet even in the midst of life’s heaviest blows, he still says give thanks. If Paul lives a safe, comfortable life, his words could easily be dismissed. But Paul embodied his message.”
I have no problem rejoicing at the good things in life. But the test comes when we realize we are invited to rejoice also in the midst of bad things.
“Gratitude invites us to trust God in all things. Thankfulness is the acknowledgement that God can redeem every situation and make us more than triumphant in any circumstance. Whether we’re facing a season of absence or abundance, barrenness or bounty, turmoil or tranquility, the command to give thanks remains. To the outsider, such an act is undeserved; but for those who place their faith in God, thankfulness is a powerful confession that God’s purpose is being worked out in all things.” (Margaret Feinberg)
What things in your life need to be worked out by God? Can you rejoice today that God is able?
Could radical gratitude reorient your own life toward God?
Begin not by looking at your circumstances. Look up – to God. The Giver of all good gifts. Rejoice!
under the mercy, Cindy
©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell – adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)
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