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Sunday, May 14, 2017
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 5:16-18NLT)
Okay, how many of us actually "do" what this scripture tells us? I could honestly say that I am joyful some of the time, but when hard circumstances come into my life, my first inclination is not joyfulness! As far as this issue of praying without ceasing, I don't think too many of us have mastered that one either! Thankfulness in times of difficulty --- maybe we do this one on occasion, but our first reaction is usually one of, "Not again!" or perhaps "Really!", or am I just alone in that one?
God's will is that we learn something most of us miss when we read through this passage - to trust him, regardless of the events or happenings in life - not because he is a magic ticket "out of" those circumstances, but because he is the stabilizing force "through" them. The joyfulness we come to appreciate is simply a result of him being "with us" in and through those trying times. The thankfulness we cultivate in our lives is the outcome of trusting - when we stop focusing on the circumstances and turn our focus toward Christ, we find ourselves being thankful for his presence with us.
It is God's will for us to pray - not so much for deliverance "from" those trying times, but that we will never lose contact with him "through" those times. Contact is lost when we turn our focus from him toward the circumstance that threatens to overwhelm us. This is a tricky thing for each of us, not because we don't love Jesus enough, or the fact we don't enjoy the trying circumstances. It is because our focus is often so easily distracted by whatever makes the most noise in our lives. Our trust is impacted by that which is in our immediate focus.
Don't believe me? Have you ever spun out on an icy road? In that moment before the spin-out, was your focus on the road as much as it is in that moment when you are doing donuts down that icy roadway? Were you thinking about how to steer the car? Probably not. You were focusing on something else, distracted by the snow falling, the tune on the radio, or even the conversation you were having with the other person in the car next to you. As soon as there was a spin-out, where did your focus go? To the road, the steering, and the other traffic on the road around you! Your focus immediately changed - because you needed to pay attention now!
Sometimes God's way of getting us to pay attention a little more to what is important in life is to help us refocus through those moments of life's little "spin-outs". Just sayin!