“Be Joyful Always” (and here’s how…)
Reading: 1 Thessalonians
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
I've always wondered how it is possible to “be joyful always”. If I'm feeling grumpy or stressed or irritable, I sometimes say to myself, “Right, I'm going to hum a tune about joy.” And I do. “Break forth into joy, O my soul, dee dee, de de dee, de de dee…” Somehow it helps!
I also remind myself of Philippians 4:6 “Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers.” So I do that, and it too certainly makes a big difference.
But what else? What can I do that will reliably turn on the flow of joy in my life?
There's an interesting turn of phrase in the verses above — “Give thanks”. Thanks are something I give — like a gift or an offering. A sacrifice, perhaps.
Sometimes, thankfulness just wells up all by itself in response to the good things that are happening. In my “lesser” moments, when the emotions that well up are rather less constructive, thanks are only given if I make a deliberate choice to do so.
Fortunately, there is always something to give thanks for, and always the capacity to do this. I can never “run out” of thanks. I can give thanks at will, and never exhaust my supply.
I don't think it is coincidence that “Give thanks” sits right beside “Be joyful always” and “Pray continually”. These three habits are not only complementary, but each one makes the other ones possible:
- Giving thanks in all circumstances helps me to be joyful always.
- Giving thanks in all circumstances means that in good times and in bad, I will find myself praying continually.
- Praying continually makes it much easier to give thanks and be joyful, because the goodness of God is always set before me.
- Being joyful makes it natural to give thanks.
I am sure that God appreciates my thanks. I'm also sure that he himself doesn't actually need them. But for me, giving thanks in all circumstances is a key to unlocking joy. When I give thanks, I receive joy!
So here is a paradox. When I give thanks, I am the one that benefits! The more I give thanks, the more I benefit!
Here then is the answer to my question. How can I be joyful always? By giving thanks in all circumstances. Yes! I can do that.
Thank you Father for this truth. I feel like I have just found an essential piece of the jigsaw puzzle of life. Please help me to make thankfulness my constant habit, and may joy always follow in its wake.
See also, And the Antidote to Stress is…
Posted on August 26, 2013, in SOAP and tagged anxiety, Christianity, depression, faith, joy, resilience, self-talk, stress, thankfulness. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Thank you for introducing me to the SOAP method! I’ve been searching for a way to enhance my studies! Praise God He led me here!
God is good! And yes, so is SOAP! I find it so helpful myself, and love to share it. It can also be used for small group studies where it saves preparation time because the group does all the work, and each person seems to pick up on a different facet of the passage or story which is very enriching for everyone. Thanks so much your feedback:-)
Thank you so much for the posting. I am blessed to work with ages 4-10. I’m sure they would only think about bath time if I tried to introduce SOAP! But I am going to use this to organize my personal studies. I’ll be watching your blog!!
I did children’s ministry for 5-11 year olds for 14 years, and did use SOAP. I made a template to print on an A5 sheet, with brief instructions and spaces to write something in. Then I would choose a short passage relating to the next week’s topic, write it on the sheet, and give it to the parent of a child who had volunteered, asking the parent NOT to do it for the child, but to help them work through it themselves. The parents actually really enjoyed this experience. The following Sunday I would read out the passage, and interview the child, asking them about what stood out to them from the passage or story and what God told them about it. They would read off their sheet. Then I got them to lead everyone in prayer, and they would read the prayer they had written. This is well worth trying, especially for your older children.
God bless you!
That might be just about the coolest advice I’ve recieved here! This will only be my second year, and I kind of hit the ground running last year. I picked up mid year due to a lack of volunteers. I was terrified of leading the kids astray somehow – but as the year progressed, Wednesdays were the hi light of my week.
We are doing the Gospel Project, and I couldn’t believe how much I learned last year in bringing the Old Testament to life with it’s prophecies of Jesus!
It was humbling to learn that when the Spirit leads us, He opens the way and gives us the words to teach! I learned that obeying God is our design, and that stepping outside of our comfort zone is one of the most amazing and intimate experiences we can have with God!
So yeah, SOAP! I’m going to do it. We have a meeting tomorrow, so this is all oddly packaged by God!
Big blessings to you brother!
And to you!