May 25, 2018
"Always be joyful." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NLT)
Have you ever felt you had more than your fair share of problems? That everyone else's life seemed packed with blessings, while yours was buried in burdens? Ever struggled with feeling unhappy as a result? Me too.
For a couple years, my overall happiness and love for life waned. More times than I care to admit, I secretly wished I could go live someone else's life - someone who seemingly had far fewer problems and adversities than I did.
This attitude caused me to feel weighed down by all the burdens I was carrying, constantly focusing on how many problems I had. I longed to feel happy again, but I wondered if true joyfulness as I once knew it was a thing of the past.
I prayed daily for God to restore my happiness and the joy of my salvation, even if my circumstances remained the same. Then, over a period of many months as I continued to lean into my faith, God did exactly that.
Gradually, I began to feel more empowered to take control of my thoughts and emotions rather than let them control me and my happiness. I became determined not to let the enemy steal or control my joy another day. I chose to intentionally love my life - despite my burdens - because it was the only life I had been given to live. I felt God leading me to make a commitment to begin counting my blessings instead of my burdens.
So, in obedience to that holy prompting, I began keeping a "blessings list." Every time something good happened, from small, seemingly insignificant things to huge blessings and answers to prayer, I wrote it down.
After a few weeks of doing this, I realized this was a stepping stone to not only reclaiming my joy and happiness, but also learning to love the life God had given me. I was retraining my mind to focus on God's generosity instead of life's letdowns. One of the secrets to true joy and loving life is simply being mindful of all God gives.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Paul said, "Always be joyful." Why? Because he knew joyfulness is imperative in order to love the life God has given us. But how do we do that when life stinks? When people hurt us? When circumstances seem hopeless? When our hearts are broken? Paul answers those questions in the two verses that follow.
First Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Never stop praying" (NLT). To be joyful, we need to stay connected to God in prayer, asking Him daily to fill us with joy based on our walk with Him - not our satisfaction with everything in life.
Then, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (NLT). During our continued prayers, we are to be grateful for all He has done for us and the life He's given us. It is His will for us to live with joy, not because life is perfect but because He is.
Being "joyful always" doesn't mean we have to walk around with a fake smile on our face all the time, ignore reality or suppress every negative emotion. This verse simply implores us to intentionally focus on the good, instead of the bad. To count our blessings rather than our burdens. To let our faith, not our feelings, dictate our joy.
The secret to real happiness isn't really a secret at all. It's simply realizing the importance of counting blessings over burdens and understanding that gratitude has incredible power over grumbling.
Lord, I long to feel happy and joyful again. Prick my heart each time I focus on burdens instead of blessings. Help me develop an intentional attitude of gratitude. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 103:2, "Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me." (NLT)
Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" (NASB)
For more tips on retraining your mind to focus on blessings instead of burdens, purchase Tracie Miles' book, Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Change the Way You Think, Feel and Live.
Tracie's newest book shares multiple tips on learning to love the life God has given you and find true happiness. Sign up for her blog updates to be the first to be notified when Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life Is Hard (Aug. 1, 2018). Also, visit Tracie's blog today for a free downloadable "Blessings List" PDF - a perfect reminder to put on your mirror or fridge!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you been focusing on the number of your burdens, or the quantity and quality of your blessings?
Beginning today, start your own Blessings List. Each time something good happens, big or small, write it down. Pray and ask God to transform your thoughts to focus on counting your blessings instead of your burdens.
© 2018 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.