“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
- Philippians 4:4
Well, Thanksgiving is almost here. In a few short days, the kids will be out of school, family will get together, and a feast will be had. It’s always a great time, but before you take that nap and then head out for your black Friday hunt (May the odds be in your favor, dear soul), take a step back and look at your life. One thing that this time of the year allows me to do is to think back on my past. Sure there are parts that I’d rather not dwell on, and I believe it is not good to dwell on the past for too long, but what I am saying is look at the blessings you have been given. The good, the bad, and ugly; all of these are in our past, but there’s something about it. Our past is a picture of how God has moved. Every choice made, every bad day, every question has all lead you to where you are in the here and now. I think that’s beautiful. We have been blessed so much, so we should rejoice in all things.
I like this idea of all things that comes up often in scripture. One of the best representations of this is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which says, “Give thanks in all circumstances (all things); for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I love this, because I love our God. We have a creator that formed the universe, every aspect of it, the known and unknown he made. It can be difficult to give thanks in all things, but when we look at how God has and will move in our lives, it excites me. It should excite you too. So today I want to share with you how you can be thankful in three areas of your life. I want to share this, because I want you to be able to grow and know that in all things, you can rejoice in the blessing over your life.
Rejoice in your past.
This is a hard one. I never said these would be easy things to be thankful for, but this one is true. We all have a past. Often we don’t like our past. Our past can be filled with hurt that we have received or hurt that we may have given. I think back to some of my past, much of it was filled with self-doubt and issues with my own self-image, I had these struggles and had people pick at me because of them. There were days I would come home from school and feel completely broken inside, but I would hide behind my mask. It was hard, yet in my past, there came hope. My family was a safe haven for me and I was introduced to a small group that showed me how to be me. From then on, all I’ve ever tried to do is just be me, because that’s who God made me to be. For you, your past might be filled with even harder struggles. There are people in my life who have struggled with addiction, suicide, depression, and abuse. I know the pain it causes, but I have seen these same people rise out of the ashes a new and more beautiful creation. That’s who God made us to be, beautiful and awesome creations (See last week’s post for more context). God has a plan for you, and even in the pain and hurt, God wants to bring you out of your past, and let you live in freedom from whatever afflictions you have experienced. Rejoice in your past, because it is a picture of God’s protection.
Rejoice in your present.
This is the you in the now. You who is finding out who they really are in the big picture. We can be thankful for this season, because in this season we are able to experiment with the talents God has given us. You are now mindful of your past, so now in the present you can start pressing into all that God wants for you. This is the time to learn more, have deeper conversations, and create community to grow stronger in your faith and walk in the world. The opportunities around you are limitless, so take a step. Develop new skills and new relationships, because now is the time. Don’t get lost in your past, unable to move forward, instead live for today. Live for today that God has given you. Start pressing into that relationship with Christ, let him move and give you healing, because the future is coming. For me, God has allowed me to take up writing, if I had stayed in my past I would have never found the joy that it truly gives me. I never would have developed a passion to reach the next generation, because I think they’re worth more than what the world says of them. Use your present to grow in your faith. Rejoice in your present, because it is a picture of God’s wisdom.
Rejoice in your future.
This is so fantastic. A word which means, extraordinarily good. We all have a past that has led us into our present, and we now have a future where the possibilities are endless. God is so much bigger than we can imagine, he has a plan for our lives. We have been given the tools and the story of our lives to tell, now we can move forward and use them. I don’t know your future, but I do know that God has purpose for you. Sure it can be scary, I’ve written several posts on the future and my anxieties with it, but the thing that I can always find comfort in is that God will use it when I am trusting him. He’s the only one I can trust with it, because he will guide me to where I need to move. There are cities that have been placed on my heart, stories I feel I need to tell, and people I want to help know they are loved. I don’t have the clear picture, and I don’t need it. I can trust God, because he has always loved me. He has always loved you and wants to guide you. Rejoice in your future, because it is a picture of God’s love.
During this season of thanksgiving, reflect on the blessing you have in your life. You have been brought out of your past into freedom. You have been given opportunity to grow in the present day. You have been given a hope for the future and all that is to come. You have a chance to dwell on these things. Don’t linger in complaining or holding grudges over those who have hurt you, instead, focus on your creator. The one who formed you has a plan for you. In all things we can give thanks, even when life gets tough. So on Thursday, celebrate the blessing. For the family you have, for the talents you have been given, and the passion God wants to place in your heart. Remember to rejoice in the blessing, of God’s protection, wisdom, and love he has shown you. Remember that you are created by God, in his own image.
Rejoice in the blessing, always.