I Thessalonians 5:18-26 NLT: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
I absolutely love this verse of scripture, and it definitely resonated with me. My family and I have had a bit of a rough winter. My daughter's asthma flareups have seemed endless as my husband and I have been driving ourselves crazy trying to figure out how to manage them. But it feels like we are always several steps behind. Finally, after another visit to her specialist, we got her on some medicine that will hopefully manage her flare ups and let her be the happy and healthy baby she is. Then, just when we thought we were going to get a break, the dreaded cold virus came to town and brought some pink eye along with it. I was nearing the point of throwing my hands up and pleading to the Lord, "Ok! Stop, please! I can't handle anymore!" Not that my husband wasn't experiencing it with me, but as a mother, it is usually you who is busting your hump day and night trying to keep everyone healthy, fed, and happy, and usually on very little sleep. I felt overburdened and tired, and just frustrated. Then, I read this verse. I smiled instantly. When I went to work yesterday, my friend asked me how my weekend was, I said, "Well, Caroline has pink eye so she is going to the doctor with her grandmother today to hopefully get that fixed." Then, I smiled and started chuckling, and my friend said, "What are you laughing about?" I responded, "Just trying to keep bring joyful in all of my circumstances." And it worked. At that moment, I didn't feel sorry for myself. I felt happy, and thankful that our family hasn't been hit with something much worse that many families, even some we know, are facing or have faced. I can't say that I am strong enough to see joy in every situation. When you lose a loved one or someone tries to break your spirit, it is very hard to muster up the strength to find joy there. But I'll tell ya what...I would much rather try my hardest to be joyful in my circumstance than succumb to the misery of it. Joy is contagious, you see, and I love nothing more than to make someone happy...to see a bright, shining smile stretched across their face. That is joy!
I haven't really hit the point where my schedule is too crazy yet. Our daughter isn't old enough to really get into any activities yet, but I am counting my blessings because I know one day that challenge will come. Even though, other than church, work, and fire department, we don't have many activities to maintain, Karen's tip, "Don't take on more than you can pray for" really meant so much to me, and really spoke to my heart. I am ashamed to say that just the day to day sometimes gets so busy, especially if you throw in a sick family member here and there, that sometimes I forget to stop and spend some quiet time with God...and God, please forgive me for this. You continue to love me, protect me, and give me only your best even though I don't hold up my end of the bargain. Being members of the prayer chain, sometimes there are a slew of people to pray for, and sometimes just a few...at least that have been put on the prayer chain. If taken seriously, that is a huge job to pray for all the people on the chain in addition to the people you pray for daily and those who haven't been put on the chain that still need prayer. So this tip really spoke to me, and it is so true!
Two things I loved most about this chapter:
A. I loved when Karen was discussing how nature is one thing that only God can control and we can't. But we accept that we can't change it, we grab what we need to keep our heads coverered and go on. We don't dwell on what the weather will do because it will literally make zero difference in the outcome. At the end of the day, or maybe even the beginning, the weather either will or it won't, and the only thing we can do is be prepared!
B. I loved learning about Esther. What a Godly and courageous woman she was! Even though there wasn't much time I'm sure, she still took the time to seek God's guidance instead of her own. Her ability to stay focused on God's desire of for her path spoke to my heart because she did it gracefully.
I also loved Karen's tips in the last half of the chapter because each one of them is so very true:
1. Remember God is God and I am not. Period. Can't get much more clear than that! Love it!
2. Pray, and if you must, fast. Karen stressed praying before acting, which is definitely the most important thing to do. But I really liked the different ideas of fasting. Fasting from gossiping about a given situation is a wonderful idea, and one that would be such a blessing carried out. Gossip is in and of itself bad, and something I know I've been guilty of and still am at times, though I try to keep it in check. But it makes any situation ten times worse than it should have to be. Her advice to fast from things other than food so that we can spend that time in prayer and in our Bibles is awesome. I love to watch tv and look around on the internet shopping sites, but those things are not going to bring me the clarity and comfort that my Lord and Savior will provide when I choose to spend time with Him instead. I can think of many times when I have been going through something difficult, or someone I love has, and I dove into my Bible and prayed to God to speak to me and give me words to offer strength and comfort. As a result, I've learned several Bible verses and stories that my mind goes to when I need strength. If someone I love is going through a difficult time, I write one or more of these verses on a greeting card for them read, and hopefully to give them strength and comfort to get through their rainy days.
And now, my little angel is awake and ready to start the day! I'm blessed that this is the way I chose to start mine! God Bless You!