Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Godís will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
My son in school the other day was given this memory verse and it got me thinking.
I remember back in the day, during my old high school football years when I was the star running back. On those rare occasions when I stood on the sidelines, I would cheer wildly for my teammates who were still on the field playing their hearts out until the moment I got back into the game. Then, once inside the huddle, I would continue to lead and encourage my teammates from the inner circle.
Off the field, I remember looking at the 2nd and 3rd string guys on the sidelines who werenít cheering very much or at all with contempt. Their lack of enthusiasm bothered me. Why were they not as excited or as pumped up for their team as much as I was?
Well, it wasnít until college that I began to see. It wasnít until I was a benchwarmer, a second stringer, or a part of the ďmeat squad,Ē as we called it, that I figured this out, and to be quite honest, my joyful mood rapidly deteriorated. There were plenty of times when I didnít feel like cheering at all.
Itís easy to stay motivated or pumped up when youíre on top or in the inner circle, but itís when youíve suffered a humbling blow or difficult circumstance that staying joyful becomes an act of the will or test of the spirit within us. It seems like life has a way of teaching us these lessons. Some take longer than others for us to learn, but unless we are wholeheartedly committed to blindness, we will learn them.
As I sit here and write these words from the comfort of my home, feet propped up on the footstool, fire blazing in the fireplace and a nice hot cup of joe on the end table, I am reminded of how easy it is to be joyful and content with the blessings the Lord has granted me. But what about those times when the blessings are not so near, Am I content? Will just knowing the Lord has saved me be enough if I lose my job and the mortgage is due?
How about the times I make a mistake, I sin and there is no one around to blame but myself? Will I be joyful always? Is this too much to ask? I donít know Ė I want to be.
Lord, help me in those moments when all I feel like doing is complaining, especially when there are non-believers around. Lord, help me to continuously be refreshed, to upload my spirit with reminders of your goodness and provisions even in the dark times of life. And also Lord, help me to flush or download the negative thoughts and complaining when life doesnít go the way I think it should.
Lord, help me to continually strive to live a life of contentment, whether Iím on the starting team and just scored the winning touchdown, or have been benched and itís cold and raining. Help me to remember my finally destination is victory and glory in your eternal presence. In Jesus Name - Amen