When I first started running this morning, I smelled smoke in the air. Kenneth had burned some brush the night before, and the pile was still smoldering. I continued my run, and as I got further down the road, I noticed a sweet fragrance. I looked around, and there was honeysuckle that had blossomed along the lane.
Throughout my run, I always talk to Jesus, quote Bible verses, and sometimes count my steps just to clear my mind and distract me from the heat and discomfort. I also look around for things that I might enjoy along the way. This morning I noticed that even among the weeds and brush that grow beside the road, there is beauty. Some of the weeds grow tall and bright green, some have small flowers, and even the trees are so vibrant this time of year.
This Is God’s Will for You
I read a passage this week that has been on my mind ever since.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV 84).
I always thought of this Scripture as Superwoman level of spirituality–something to be attained at some point in my life, but I’m just not there yet.
But this morning I began to study this passage, and here’s what I learned.
Be joyful always.
Joyful can be translated “rejoice, be glad, to be well, to thrive.” The Hebrew for the word actually means “calmly happy.” I really like that. We all know that inner joy isn’t dependent upon circumstances, but it’s still really difficult to be happy when we’re going through a trial. But when we think of it as being able to be well even in the face of tragedy, it kinda takes on a different meaning.
When we can continue to thrive and grow in our relationship with the Lord and maintain a sense of calm, even in the midst of trying times, we are being joyful always. Only the Holy Spirit can give us this sense of calm and peace.
This, too, I’ve always read and thought that nobody can really pray continually. We have to work, study, and do many other things that engage our minds. How can we possible pray all the time?
The word pray means to supplicate or ask and to worship. Maybe we can’t pray all the time with words, but we can stay in an attitude of prayer and worship. This process will only come about for us as we seek the Lord and spend time in His presence.
If you’ve never read the book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, I highly recommend it. It’s a classic about being aware of God’s presence in the everyday moments of our lives. Being aware of God’s presence is how we stay in conversation and prayer with Him, talking to God and calling on Him for help.
Give thanks in everything.
I can remember a trying time in my life, when my daddy was drinking and not doing well. I read this verse and thought, “How am I supposed to be thankful for an alcoholic father?”
The Lord spoke to my spirit and said, “I’m not asking you to be thankful for the problem but thankful that I am with you in the midst of the problem, and I will carry you through it.”
When I studied “in everything,” I learned that it doesn’t necessarily mean every individual thing, but being collectively grateful all the time–just an attitude of thankfulness to God no matter our circumstances.
So, whatever you may be going through today, just know that God is with you. You may not feel joyful, but you can thrive if you choose to seek Him, call on Him for help, and be grateful for His presence in your life.
“‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ –which means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:23).
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5).
“Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:6-8).
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
When life smells like smoke, find the honeysuckle. In the overgrowth of weeds, look for the blossoms.
This is God’s will for you.