Joy & Gratitude

When was the last time you laughed for the sheer joy of your salvation?
People are not attracted to somber doctrines.
There is no persuasive power in a gloomy and morbid religion.
Let the world see your joy and you won't be able to keep them away.
To be filled with God is to be filled with joy.

                                                                                       – Anonymous

The Passage – Colossians 1:11-14

I’m not sure about you, but I have a strong mixed reaction to the latest “Stay at Home” public health directive. On the one hand, the mandate to remain in place and slow down is welcome. On the other hand, I am entirely stir crazy, longing for the familiar rhythms of life before this pandemic.

So these verses in Colossians are a wonderful prayer – for strength from God’s power, for endurance with patience, for joy rooted in thanksgiving. I encourage you to read them several times and see which words and phrases work their way into your heart and spirit:

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Notice the verbs that follow “giving thanks”? Enabled to share in a secured inheritance – rescues from darkness (you know how when it is really, really dark you can’t actually see very far ahead …) – transferred into the realm where Jesus’ love reigns – forgiven and free. Notice the past tense – this is a done deal, more certain than any of the present circumstances.

I choose joy...
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.
I will refuse the temptation to be cynical... the tool of the lazy thinker.
I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God.
I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

                                                                                                                              – Max Lucado

The Prayer

As you come to Jesus in prayer this morning, pray through Colossians 1:11-14 – where do you seek the grace of strength from God’s glorious power? Where do you need the gift of patience to endure? For what can you give thanks with joy? Be sure to finish with praise – for sharing in an inheritance that is not vulnerable to economic threat – for the forgiveness, love and loyalty of Jesus who is Lord of all.

The Practice: Grounded in Gratitude

Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense
of the crowded kindnesses of God
in your daily life.
                                          – Alexander MacLaren
Gratitude is essential to joy, of course – but so is a sense of time, of God’s enduring strength and rescue and transfer and redemption. We can’t look ahead and know how long we will be enduring this pandemic, but we can look back on God’s provision. I invite you later today to practice the joy of remembering God’s good gifts. If you’re a smart phone user, pull up that calendar from a year ago – maybe even a year and a half. Pull up those photos snapped and saved – have some fun remembering with gratitude God’s past goodness and give thanks. I bet you can do this even without a smart phone …

Maybe you’ll want to finish your time by writing a note – snail or email – to someone who came to mind on this thanksgiving tour expressing your gratitude for them and prayers for their endurance.
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