Hi. If I told you this year’s been hard, it would be an understatement.
Words, thoughts, creativity…they’ve been tough to come by.
Right now I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. That’s not how I like to be. I want to be all in and enthusiastic about everything. Just not there right now.
So it’s not surprising to me that while I intended to write 30 devotions about gratitude and thankfulness this month…I’ve only gotten as far as creating a few memes and picking out Bible verses to reflect on.
Here’s the first meme:
I referred to this verse in my FB Midweek Refresh lesson. I have felt like addressing the different verses which point to giving thanks and being grateful, while frequently discussed, are not always given a honest interpretation when it comes to application. Why? Because life is tough and we need more than Pollyanna platitudes.
On a scale of 1-10, I would give this verse a 10 for difficulty. My reasoning lies in the phrase “in all circumstances.”
Before we pick this verse apart, let’s drop it into context for a moment. Paul wrote the letter of 1 Thessalonians in response to the heavy persecution the believers were facing. He wanted to encourage their faith and hope. To do this he directed them to look to the future, and specifically to Christ’s return.
When do we lose hope? For me, hopelessness creeps (and often floods) in when my focus is on the direness, bleakness of the situation. Feelings of overwhelming lack and negativity block out the positive…the hope.
Paul’s words and intent reminded me of the old hymn: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The encouragement of the hymn writer syncs with Paul’s message, for when we look full into Jesus’ wonderful face “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”
Nothing about this verse diminishes the awfulness or pain we might be going through. It certainly didn’t for the Thessalonians. Our hope is not in the circumstances changing. So what does? Our focus.
It is God’s will for us to give thanks in all (each and every) circumstances because we experience the presence and promise of God through it all. We never face the test or difficulty alone. We never have to do it in our strength alone.
And look…just thinking about this enabled me to write a blog post. Thank you, God, for your presence and promise. Forgive me when I lose focus. Remind me where to keep my eyes. Amen.