Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Which Will You Choose? A Thankful Tuesday Post.

I was confronted with a verse of Scripture this morning that I can't get out of my head. In fact, it seems everywhere I have turn ed today, there it is. Frankly, I would like to get away from it, but I can't.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:8). 

I have been trying to ignore that verse, but I can't do it. And when that one goes out of my mind, here come this closely related verse.

"In everything give thanks." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

A few words jump out at me from those verses. Always. In everything.

No matter how I might try to rationalize, the meaning of those words is quite clear. Always means always. Everything means every thing. Not sometimes. Not some things. Always. All the time. In every situation. In every circumstance.

So this morning I find myself facing reality. I don't ALWAYS give thanks in EVERYTHING.  I don't REJOICE ALWAYS. But isn't that what Scripture tells me I SHOULD be doing?

Maybe you face the same dilemma. You love the Lord. You want to obey His word. All of it.....not just the easy parts. And when we're tempted to ignore those parts we don't like, we're reminded of verses like these.

I don't know what kind of week you are having. But I do know how things are in my world. In these months since my stroke I have been told over and over again that there will be good days and there will be bad days. When I was in rehab and could see progress and improvement every day, it was easy to hold on to those verses.

"In everything give thanks."

But now that I am settled into a new normal, with no dramatic changes from day to day, I'm in a routine of good days and bad days. Thankfully, there are more good ones than bad. On those days, it's easy to "give thanks in all things." But then, without warning, there are the bad days. The days when I can't remember things. When I lose things. When I can't read or write. When my balance is off. When I'm feeling lonely. Missing getting in a car and driving myself places. Missing going to lunch with the girls. Missing all the things that used to be a part of my life. Missing feeling normal.

Those are days when it is really hard to "give thanks." On those days, I feel anything but thankful. On those days, I struggle.

You may not have had a stroke. But I suspect that, no matter what the circumstances of your life, you have your own list of less-than-I-would-like-it-to-be situations. We all do. We all face circumstances in life that make rejoicing ALWAYS a bit of a challenge. We all have situations when we don't feel like smiling.

But these verses don't tell us to smile always. They don't tell us to always feel thankful. They tell us to give thanks in all things. 

Giving thanks in all thinks is not about feelings. It is an act of the will.

How do we do that? How do we deal with the bad days? How do we give thanks in all things, even when we don't feel like it?

For me, the answer is simple. Not easy, but simple. I pray. Even on the days when I can't form a coherent thought, I pray.

Lord, I'm struggling today. Things are not going well today. I want to give thanks, but I just don't feel like it. I'm so thankful for all you have done for me and for all you have brought me through, but I confess that today I'm really having a hard time. I need your help. Thank you.

That may not make me read any better or remember any better. But it will get me through the hard days. It will help me to focus on giving thanks, rather than focusing on circumstances.

And that brings to mind another passage of scripture, this one from Hebrews. Don't you love how it all fits together?

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS."  (Hebrews 12:1-2a NASB, emphasis mine).

Eyes on Jesus, not on circumstances. With that focus, rejoicing and giving thanks really becomes much easier.

Which will you choose?

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