When life is going well, or even fairly well thankfulness is easy. When life is but a little less than ideal, we might even pride ourselves sometimes with how well we are thankful in the midst of, what we try to tell ourselves is, major strife. But there are times when truly difficult situations happen in our lives that make thankfulness difficult to come by.
In my experience, in order to survive you must find joy, otherwise your heart will drown. 1 Thessalonians 5:16- 18 says “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I don’t think this verse necessarily says to find joy in the pain itself, but hold on to the good things about your circumstances which in turn helps the negative be less overwhelming.
Much of my struggle and difficult situation is definitely Taylor’s autism. I am constantly physically challenged. The emotional toll can be intense. Finding joy in that seems odd. “I’m feeling joy when my son pinches me.” Doesn’t seem like the way it’s supposed to go. I think the joy that Paul talks about in these verses are discovering and appreciating the positive things in your life, whether they are related or not, and it doesn’t matter how little they seem.
I am thankful for my cup of coffee every day, or almost every day. I love it even more when I sit down and realize I have a new episode of my favorite show ready to watch on my dvr. I love my garden, baby smiles, my little girl’s texting me a thousand emoticons because she is just learning, having time at night before falling asleep just for myself without feeling that interruptions are immanent, discovering that extra bag of chocolate chips and the unexpected yummy cookies to follow, sitting outside with our new fire pit, new swings for the yard with the promise of new memories to come,….
I also find joy in the promise that God will make all things right in the end, and my tears don’t go unnoticed. And when I see Him, he will personally wipe then from my eyes, and I will be rewarded by Him for enduring the struggles I have here in my life. This gives me joy and endurance as well. I don’t suffer meaninglessly.
Even in the middle of autism, you can find joy. The little victories and accomplishments are an obvious source of happiness, but there can be so much more. I love how my son is passionate about piano, his giggles when he wants to be tickled, his smiles just looking at the empty sky. He reminds me to notice the simple; the things we overlook and take for granted.
It’s hard to find joy in a difficult situation; maybe even a seemingly hopeless one. But I believe that placing more value in the little positive things, even if they pale in comparison to the size of your problems, helps your heart find respite and take a little break from shouldering so much worry and/or pain.
The Bible isn’t just a book filled with should do’s and don’ts. I’ve learned that many of the commands and instructions on how to live aren’t just mere rules, regulations, restrictions, and limitations; They are there to protect us. They are there to guide us and help our hearts be full and happy. Just as a good parent doesn’t set rules at home for their children only as a way to oppress and control them; The Bible is a book of God’s love and freedom…not oppression and condemnation. And for that, I am very thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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