“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus…Hold onto the good…May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” 1 Thess 5:16-23.
Have you ever met someone who seemed to exude joy no matter what that person was experiencing? More than likely someone just came to mind, and most likely this person has a strong walk with God. With the challenging circumstances of this world, joy is not something that we can manufacture. We are given several thoughts on the way to find joy as Paul suggested.
Joy is the ‘settled assurance that God is in control of every detail in our lives, the quiet confidence that ultimately all will be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.’ Choose Joy – Kay Warren. Paul knew that the only way to receive joy was to pray continually and to give thanks constantly. Our instruction to ‘hold onto the good’ means to intentionally replace the lies our feelings tell us with the truths that God has already taught us. We are to hold onto the spiritual progress we have made, not allowing our thoughts to derail our faith. ‘What we think determines how we act, and how we act determines how we feel’ p. 72. As our passage states, it is God’s will for us to attain joy which can only happen through our faith.
Consider the words in our definition…settled assurance – once and for all acceptance …quiet confidence - a calm and peaceful belief…determined choice – intentional praise when our emotions say otherwise. Two precious women have certainly come to mind when thinking of our definition. Their daily lives revolve around the challenges associated with cancer. When I look at these women I do not see illness…I do not see suffering…I do not see fear and emotional weakness. I see beauty…strength…gratitude…peace. It certainly sounds like our definition of joy as these women 'hold onto the good.'
Indeed, joy begins in the mind so what we feed our mind will determine how we respond to trails in our lives.