Monday, November 14, 2016

Decision 2016 (No, not the Election)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
Sometimes, it is easy to be joyful and thankful. The emotions naturally flow out when good things happen in life. When things are going in our favor, we can’t help but be optimistic and happy. But, what about when they are not?

How can you find joy in a season when a loved one is no longer here? How can you be thankful if you have lost a job, just received a diagnosis, or are just tired from being someone’s caregiver? How can you keep praying through situations that never seem to change?

Here is the simple answer. It is a decision you make.

Sometimes, keeping ourselves in check is difficult. Our flesh and soul cry out for justice in our situations. We want to understand why certain things happen in our life as if that knowledge itself could provide relief. We often feel our emotions would change if our problem would be solved. We believe that we could be thankful or joyful when our circumstances would create the atmosphere for it.

That is not the way it should be, though.

For years, I spent the time around Thanksgiving deciding if I had enough things going in my favor to have an attitude of gratitude. If my daughter had a bad year of sickness and medical issues, then those were strong reasons to sulk my way through the Thanksgiving festivities. If the medical bills ate up our finances, then pile on the mashed potatoes for some good old fashioned stress eating. If tests for my daughter were coming up that had me a little concerned, then all the more reason to magically be out of the room for the annual announcement of what I am thankful for at our family event.

But, that is not the right attitude. We are not guaranteed perfection in our lives. We are called to pray and find our peace in God. A shift in our attitude can absolutely come before we ever see a change in our situation.

I understand that it is not easy. I cannot do anything to cure my daughter of health problems that she has battled for years. I can, however, decide how I will view these health problems and try to keep a Godly perspective through difficult times. I decide if I want to be upset about driving to another doctor's appointment or be grateful for the health care and doctors available for my daughter. I decide to smile while I administer medications to her every day instead of being grumpy through the process day after day. I decide what to focus on and how to approach her daily care.

Now, the decision is up to you. How will shift your attitude to be sincerely thankful this month?

Your word challenges us to always be joyful, never stop praying, and to be thankful no matter the circumstances. Help us Lord to keep this perspective no matter what we are facing in this life. During this time of Thanksgiving, may our hearts be drawn ever closer to You so that we can see your perspective and quiet down thoughts that are pulling us in wrong attitudes. Let us celebrate the holidays with renewed joy and thankful hearts no matter what is going on around us. Amen!

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