Are there people in your life that just thinking about them always brings you joy? Just the mention of their name makes you smile with fondness? Let me be more direct. When you think of them, is every single thought positive or is it just more positive than not?
I like people, mostly. I have several friendships that bring joyful and warm memories into my grey matter. But if honest, I would also say that not every thought of these friends are positive. Regrets, disappointments, chinks in the armor, mud on their shoes, disagreements, and so on. And I know that when people think of me, there are a lot of things that have and will continue to annoy them. If you want to reveal to me what those are, please direct message me at … never mind, I don’t want to know … my ego is too fragile.
I like people, mostly.
Now imagine this. You want to head somewhere but divine providence directs you away from your choice of destination. God blesses your ministry/endeavors but there are some major set backs … a demon possessed woman annoyingly cries out at you, her handlers (bosses) don’t like the way you helped her so they grab you and drag you into the city square. You are stripped of your clothes, attacked by the mob, and beaten with rods. You’re thrown into prison, shackled in the darkest and most isolated hole of a room. While down in the dungeon, an earthquake takes place and shakes the building. The next day, they release you only to try to throw you out of town warning you never to return.
Talk about a pretty bad Yelp review, this town deserves it. This is Paul’s experience in Philippi. But later, Paul writes to them and puts this line near the beginning of his letter, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” ALL my remembrance. Read that again, ALL my remembrance.
So I ponder. It couldn’t be him remembering rightly. Maybe the beating got to his head. Maybe it is selective memory, where he choose to forget. Kind of self hypnosis. More likely though, he willfully chooses to let his gratitude be stronger than any circumstances he faced. It was a choice to focus on the positive.
More likely though, he willfully chooses to let his gratitude be stronger than any circumstances he faced.
Life happens, hard times hit, people have mud they track through your life, and there are no places that are perfect … rain falls on days we schedule picnics. But it is what we choose to focus on that impacts our joy. So, what will you focus on? What is stronger, your gratitude for God working in and through all things in your life, or your disappointment that life doesn’t go to your plans?
Me, I thank my God always. At least I try. And when I don’t, I ask for forgiveness and try again?
May your day be filled with thankfulness to God.