Joy Always

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1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18 – “Rejoice always…Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
“Rejoice” means to be glad, happy, or delighted; to be full of joy. Always? I mean, it’s easy to rejoice sometimes but always finding joy? Not so easy. Giving thanks in all things? Is that even possible?
Being happy is not instinctive for me; it’s not something that always comes naturally. I’m sure some people would be shocked to discover that. Everyone thinks I’m always happy; people tell me I’m always smiling. But honestly there are a lot of days that I find it really hard to find reasons to be happy. It’s a deliberate choice for me. I have to constantly remind myself that I should always, no matter how bad life gets, be able to find things to be thankful for. My happiness, my joy should never be based on my circumstances and therefore I should find joy no matter the circumstances. Believe me, that’s easier said than done.
Life is really hard sometimes and my natural response seems to be to get upset or angry, but if I’m honest with myself neither of those reactions ever make the situation better. Usually they just end up making everything worse.
Psalm 102:23a says, “In the course of my life, He broke my strength.” I read that the other day and I wondered…is that what God’s doing when life feels hard? Breaking my strength? Because I can be a very proud person. And if my life wasn’t broken, would I have given it over to Him for Him to fix it? Would I see myself as in need of Him if life is dandy and I’m doing just fine on my own?
Can I say as Paul in Philippians 4:11-13? “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” He breaks my strength so that He can give me some of His own.
I have a notebook where I write down what I’m thankful for. There are some days when I’m writing nonstop and other days I just sit there staring at a blank page and trying so hard to find something. But there are a few things that I can be thankful for every day no matter what:
That I’m still breathing—God has blessed me with another day here
God’s love—nothing can separate me from that (Romans 8:38-39)
Eternal life—God didn’t promise an easy life but he did promise me eternity with Him
And really, even if those are the only things that I can find to be thankful for, isn’t that enough? I am so blessed. God didn’t have to save me but He did. He didn’t have to create me but He did. He didn’t have to give me another day but here I am. He didn’t have to love me but He does.  I think I have plenty of reasons to be happy 🙂

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