Joyful Always?

“Be joyful always, pray continually.” (1 Thes. 5:16-17) These five words may seem overwhelming when we think about putting them into practice in our lives. When we read this, a question invariably gets asked in our minds: “How is this possible?” or better yet, “IS this even possible?” We want to know, “Is praying continually even possible?” or “What does being joyful ALWAYS really look like?” The question that we have to ask and wrestle with is this, “Can we truly live this verse out in our day to day lives or is it more of an idealistic goal we just shoot for?” There are lots of reasons out there to not be that joyful. All we have to do is turn on the news, or log onto the Internet to get a snapshot of the mess our world seems to be in. I have had things that caused heartache in my life, as I am sure all of you have. I know the sting of seeing my parents divorce. I know what it is like to lose my job. I know the heartache and loneliness of having friends and loved ones move away, and feeling like I was all alone.

You might be saying, “Wow Ryan, you have had it great compared to what I am dealing with. You have nothing to complain about. That’s small potatoes compared to where my life is at.” You may be right, but regardless, we all go through struggles in life and we all have different sets of circumstances that we face. The commonality of it all is that no matter what the struggle or heartache God is faithful and never changing. But still we find this verse in scripture and say to ourselves, “wait a minute God, have you seen where my life is at right now?” I know that I have.

In my journey toward figuring this out I found Philippians 4:3. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!” There is real hope in this verse. First of all let me tell you what this verse does not say. It does not say rejoice in your problems. It does not say rejoice in the fact that you lost your job. It does not say rejoice because you just had a loved one pass away. What it does say is that we are to rejoice in the Lord always.

God has never changed and his word says in Hebrews 13:8 that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  You can count on his promises. If he says that he does not change, he does not change. All throughout scripture His promises are spoken to both people and nations and every time they are fulfilled. Not once does scripture contradict God’s character. He remains constant even when his people (this includes you and I) do not. He also says he will never leave us or forsake us. We have so much to be thankful for in Christ. His sacrifice on the cross allows us a personal relationship with the creator and God of a universe. We would be facing an eternal separation from God, and an eternity in hell otherwise.

This is where the praying continuously comes into play. Even in the middle of our circumstances, if we are focused on what God is doing in our lives and we are looking to him for guidance in the toughest of situations to the easiest then this “praying continuously” doesn’t seem so far fetched.  Where does our mind go when a problem arises? Are we immediately looking for solutions, the culprit, where to place blame? Or are we looking to the God and savior of our souls for peace, and comfort; thanking him and reminding ourselves of the joy that we have in him. Remember all prayer is, is communication with God. So even in the midst of trials it does not mean that we have to find a quiet place and get into the proper praying position and make sure that we speak forth in eloquence. It means that we just talk to God right where we are.

So even though the circumstances of our lives may all be different, the one that isn’t is God, and His amazing love for us.  The bible says in Romans 8:28 that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. That gives me hope. I know that I have seen this verse fulfilled in my life, and I have seen it happen in the lives of many others as well.

Final Thought: Even though you may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, don’t stop trusting God and believing that he will never leave you. He will see you through whatever your are dealing with. Simply talk to him.