Day 16: Dare to Choose Whom You Will Serve and the Direction You Will Take
The joys of life can seem few and far between when we are riding out the storms of life. The compliment you received from your boss today can easily be overridden by someone cutting you off in traffic on your way home. If only you would let the moment pass. Instead, you sit and stew about it the entire trip home, become short with your spouse, your children, stressing yourself to death over something out of your control and so insignificant. You could have focused on the amazing compliment you received today and how it made you feel. I bet you couldn’t wait to get home to share it with the family. But now, all is forgotten.
Why is it so easy for us to zero in on the negatives of life and completely dismiss all the blessings and joys we have? I love the question the book presents, “What would it be like if we were so confident in Christ’s care that we sang in the middle of our gloomy days and our painful moments?” For starters, we would have a more pleasant presence about us and those we love and care about wouldn’t be trying to avoid us and our nasty attitudes. The author goes on to say, “not everything that happens in life is good. But regardless of what happens, God is still working in it. If we look to him, we will find strength for the hard things, patience in the daily things, and joy in all things.” Thank God daily for your blessings. Write them down in a gratitude journal. I say daily because unfortunately, our attitudes are far too easily focused on the bad day in and day out. To develop a habit of thankfulness we must begin each day with that attitude. The chapter closes by saying, “Choose joy because God is working, and never look back because you cannot run the race while looking behind you.”
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
“Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the LORD’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the LORD disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.