"Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight." Psalm 119:143
"For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
The joy of the Lord is a powerful thing. This weekend I was witness to the joy of the Lord in a most unexpected way. I watched, with tears in my eyes, as I watched a woman worship and love God with all her heart. I watched the smile on her face as she praised God and I just knew that she meant every bit of it, and that she loved God with all her heart and soul. What made this woman so unique was that this past week, she lost her husband and soul mate to cancer. And two months prior she lost her beautiful daughter to the same horrible disease. If there was ever a time when someone might stay home from church for a week, this would have been it. If there was ever a time where someone would have just sat down during worship, thinking about their loss, this would have been it. Instead, she chose God, and it was amazing to see.
You know, we read verses like these ones in the Bible, and we hear a lot of talk about how God's love and joy will carry us through any struggle in life, but actually seeing it played out is a completely different thing. Normally, we see bitterness and sadness, and we question God as to why these things have happened. And I have no doubt this lady has questions, but she also has love. She also knows that both her husband and daughter are in the presence of God, and that alone is surely a great comfort. Oh, sure, there were tears and many hugs as people expressed their condolences and offered comfort, but when the time came for her to focus on God and worship Him, she did so with all her heart, and it showed. Her face glowed with love for her Heavenly Father, and it really spoke to me.
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
As we come into the season of Thanksgiving, sometimes we may be wondering what we exactly have to be thankful for. We may look around and see lack in many areas, but no matter what we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we have an older brother in Christ who died for us. We should give thanks in every situation because He is always there for us. No matter how things look on the outside, God is there and is always there with open arms, wanting to show His love to us. And He likes it when we give thanks. Just as a parent likes it when their child thanks them for something, God does too. I know that when I give one of my children something, I like to hear the words thank you. Today we can be thankful that God gave us today. Every day is a new opportunity to thank God for another day of life.
I truly hope that I never have to go through the things this woman is going through at church. And I hope no one else I know has to go through it either. But at the same time, watching her yesterday really showed me that I have much to be thankful for, and sometimes I maybe take it all for granted. I know many times I may not appreciate my husband or my children, because they're simply always there, always doing stuff. That sometimes we don't take those moments to just be thankful. So even though it's not Thanksgiving yet, Thanksgiving begins today in my heart. I am thankful for the abounding joy that is in my life, and I pray that God will use me as a joy carrier, to take the joy to those around me who really need it.