Chris Tomlin O Come all Ye Faithful

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gratitude and Joy ALWAYS??

I've been thinking about gratitude. God says in his Word, (1 Thes. 5:1) to "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." All circumstances. That's a fairly all-inclusive phrase! The topic of a grateful heart became more eminent in my thoughts after reading 1000 Gifts, Loving your life Right where you are. Truly, I'd often felt pangs of guilt at my lack of a joyful heart. God doesn't want me to have guilt pains; but he DOES want me to have joy...for my own benefit as much as for anyone else. And from what core does the burbling spring of joy flow? From gratitude.

There is nothing more bitter and unhappy than a complainer; someone who feels gypped out of something they deserve...someone who is constantly discontented. God has filled our hands with good things. And He asks only this of us: to be thankful for these gifts.

"But" someone will say, "what about when He hands us suffering or disaster?" That is where trust must enter the scene...the ability to HOPE and to have FAITH that God will be faithful to all of his promises to be working Good for us in everything (Jer. 29: 11; Rom. 8:28); to give us a future that outshines our most creative dreams. And the heart that KNOWS this to be true, can be unswayed by whatever storms come his way. He can take delight in the journey, anticipating the day when God will turn this tangled tapestry over and reveal to us the amazing complexity and beauty of His design. And this heart is and MUST be a joyful heart. Joy is the only possible response.

Am I always joyful? Not to the extent that I would like to be. I think that I have great PEACE in the face of the various trials that confront me. I do trust that the Lord is at work to bring me either to a place of more Christlike character or to bring me some other blessing - even the blessing of being used by Him in some way to suit His hidden purposes. And this does give me a glow of joy...WHEN I'M AWARE OF IT....Isn't it so easy to focus on the "I don't have"s rather than on the gifts God gives us daily??

Focus is so important. As long as we live in a sin-fallen world with the terrible side of sickness, poverty, war, death and suffering, it is going to be easy to look at them from an immediate point of view, rather than through eternal eyes. That is why Paul enjoins us to:

... fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (I Cor.4:18) It is only when we have this long range focus that we can clearly see the present. It is only when we consider eternity that anything makes sense and can give us hope. And where there is Hope, Faith and Peace....JOY must tag along like a happy child holding her parents' hands.

I think of the crucifixion of Christ. Certainly it was without precedent in it's violence and ugly sadness...if it were to be viewed only in that moment in time - which is how his disciples were then viewing it. They saw only the loss. But in time, God opened their eyes to the great inestimable benefit which would come from this death. ..Without a death, there can be no resurrection. There would be no victory over sin, without Death being given a trouncing. And when we consider what this does or can mean to us who are his kids....HOW CAN WE NOT BE JOYFUL?

So I must adapt my glasses to view the big picture instead of the moments of suffering by which I'm surrounded now...And to know that my God is using this suffering to refine and perfect me; to somehow further His Kingdom and maybe to teach the devil a thing or two...Regardless of which of those it is...I can KNOW that his plans are perfect; to give me a hope and a future. And therefore my heart whispers "thank you" and my soul rejoices.
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