November is a great month. I love the season of Thanksgiving, being able to look at what life has given you and reflect on what matters most. This year might be a little more difficult to do that, but at the same time, this might be the perfect moment to do that. I have been told that I have a lot of joy, I have a lot of energy and I really love people. The secret is, I don’t have that come naturally. What I’ve had to do was grow a lot and realize, that by living a thankful life, joy follows.
I say it’s a process, because I have to actively choose to live thankfully. For a few years I have had to go through some hard situations. I dealt with the death of a close friend, I had a family member battle addiction, I worked so hard at a place where I clearly wasn’t wanted; and all of the many trials we go through in life. I find that when I focus on the hardships, I get lost in the weeds. We’re all going to have hardships, but these are opportunities to grow.
I love the NIRV translation of the bible, we use it in children’s ministry because of how descriptive it is in its truth. The book of Philippians is written by Paul to the early church while being in prison. Not the greatest situation to be in, but there is a moment where he encourages the church, and I believe it will encourage you too.
“Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.” Philippians 4:4-7
Become vulnerable with God.
It may sound unrelated, but this is the start of living a more thankful life. Pretending like you have it all together just isn’t sustainable. Bottling up feelings and worries will only hurt you. We need to start being vulnerable with God, that scripture is saying that in the good and bad, pray to God about it. Don’t feel like you have to be a perfect person for God, he knows you aren’t perfect, he knows that so much that he sent his perfect son to die and defeat death, so that you could be in a relationship with him. Start being vulnerable so that healing can come.
Choose to be thankful, even when you don’t understand.
This is where you have to make an active choice to be thankful. In the midst of all things, choose to thank God. It has to begin as an active choice for it to become a habit. Start small, be thankful for the bed you slept in and the fact that you had a meal today, then keep working to the hardships. Thank God for the struggle because you know it will grow you on the other side. This will require you to look back at your life and think about what came from the hardship, it made you who you are today, and you are still breathing. God has a purpose over your life, trust him and allow that unknown peace fill your heart.
I love that people see me as someone who is filled with joy, I always want people to see that it is because I choose to live a thankful life. I’m thankful for the good, but I am more thankful for the hardships. In the death of my friend, it allows me to see life as being temporary and wanting to make the most of it like Seth did with his life. Through watching my family member deal with addiction, I was able to see God heal his life and radically change it for the better. In my journey of ministry, I am able to understand that God loves me and wants me, I want to press into ministry where I can help others be known the way I want to be known. I am thankful for these moments and the moments that will come, because I know that in all things, God is working to help me get closer to what he has called me to do.
What are the hardships you have or are currently facing? How can you choose to live a thankful life during this?
Be vulnerable with God and choose to be thankful in all things. Let your joy come from living a thankful life.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__