Fresh Gratitude: The Key to Joy
As part of our mini-series on refreshing our faith, this morning we're focusing on refreshing our thankfulness. It just so happens that we've got a fantastic little nugget of scripture to help us on our way...
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (Thessalonians 5:16-18 )
This passage touches on three things: joy, prayer and gratitude. Let's work backwards:
Give thanks in all circumstances. This type of thankfulness is not just a quick 'Thank You God that I didn't miss the bus!' - but it's thankfulness as a way of life. Even in the most difficult times, we can always give thanks to God for the biggest act of love we could have ever experienced: sending His Son Jesus to die for us. We can thank God for His amazing love for us. For the promise of eternal hope.
Why not make this year one where you also try to thank God for the things you might take for granted? For me this is often my health, my family, peace in our country, or happy times with friends - all things to be thankful for.
The more we shape our hearts and minds to recognise things we can be grateful for, the less we tend to complain or be dissatisfied with life. Thankfulness generates contentedness, as we realise how good our God is and how many blessings He pours out on us daily.
Praying 'continually' can sound hard, and actually a bit unrealistic. How can we be praying continually at school, when we're in lessons or with our friends? I think the message for us here is more to walk continually with God, acknowledging Him in everything we do.
This doesn't need to be spoken words to God - but it means trying to acknowledge His sovereignty in all our ways. It means remembering God in everything we do, and lifting up prayers to Him as often as we can; actively engaging Him in our life.
Our God is there in the small things, He's there in the quiet times of our lives as much as the chaos and noise - and He loves us down to the tiniest detail. Remember to lift those details up to Him and ask for His guidance at every step.
So what's the key to joy? Keeping a constant relationship with our Father God. Pressing in to the pattern of Thessalonians 5:16-18 by engaging in continual dialogue with our Creator; and cultivating a mindset of continual thankfulness.
Building a habit of gratitude will unlock greater and greater joy - no matter what our circumstances are. Because even if we feel lost and far away, God's love doesn't fail and it never gives way. This is a joy that doesn't depend on our situation or our feelings - and it's the only true joy we could ever find.
Don't let the ups and downs of this week, or this year, steal your joy. Unlock joy through a real and daily relationship with your Father God, walking in prayer and thanksgiving. Refresh your gratitude, and your joy will multiply!
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
Lucy grew up in Cambridge, studied at Durham University (the best!) and spent a year back at home before marrying James (also the best!). She now lives in London, worships at Holy Trinity Clapham, and works in Marketing.