This is a newspaper article that my friend wrote which was published Saturday. May you be encouraged by her words
Who are we when our world falls apart?
It is not very often when life around us is at complete peace. Our worlds are usually bombarded with affliction, whether it’s financial strain, loneliness, loss, an uncertain future, or something else. A rapidly changing and chaotic year is nearly behind us. But though the end is near, many of us seem to be left with the ragged end of a tapestry. Maybe dreams crashed when a deadly virus destroyed our peace, and maybe even took the lives of those we love. Perhaps hope sank with the results of the presidential election. Storms in our personal life paired with the ongoing tumult of the universe can often seem like too much to bear.
In response, we react. In affliction, we are hurt and may strike out. Our hearts may harden from pain’s past and we may find it difficult to soften. Our world falls apart. We may become a people scarred from tribulation, wavering in our faith and stable in our doubt. Perhaps we become the people we know we shouldn’t, the people we don’t want to become, but still, reacting is easier than responding.
But is there another way?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” In three short sentences, Paul gives us the secret to a joyful life: rejoice, pray, and give thanks. But is it possible to rejoice always? To ‘grin and bear it’ even in the most hopeless of circumstances? It is perhaps one of the most difficult things we can do – rejoicing in the midst of burdensome circumstances. But joy doesn’t come simply by feeling joyful. We can’t ‘fake it till we make it’, nor should that be expected.
Joy is more than a feeling. Joy is a choice. As Paul says, in order to rejoice, we must first be grateful. And in order to be grateful, we must pray: openly thanking our Father for what He has given us. When we voice our thankfulness to our Father, our perspective changes. While old habits die hard, new habits become stronger if they are able to overtake the old ones. If we can remind ourselves of the things we are grateful for and openly thank God for them, we are promised joy. This truth is more than just pulling us through the hard times. It is completely transformative. How much more could we be transformed if we didn’t just thank God for the good gifts, but for everything? What if we thanked Him for the trials, heartbreaks, disappointments, and losses, because we know that sometimes good things can only happen in darkness?
As Paul urged us from a prison cell to be joyful and shine like stars in the night, we can learn to overcome the darkness of our own jail-like circumstances and be the people we need to be through our hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17). Is anything – a virus, an election, a hurtful relationship – out of His hands? In anticipation of this holiday season, let us take the opportunity to thank God for everything we have – the good and the bad. We can choose to have joy in the good things of today.
And as for the storms of today, let them be tomorrow’s light.
McKenna Vietti is a writer, passionate about missions, mental health, and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find more of her work on Instagram @mckenna_jaine.