Jonathan's Perspective  

Nov 20

'Designed for Joy - Grateful by Choice'

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ I Thess 5:16-17

God has created us to be thankful, happy, and joyful people. Often-times we live in so much dysfunction at home, in the workplace, and in our culture, that we lose sight of what we have to be thankful for. We are inundated with so much negative input that we begin to think that the negative is the norm and hunker down to endure life rather than thrive in life. God made us for so much more.

God has given us all we need to experience love, joy, grace, a sense of purpose, meaning, and accomplishment. God has given us capacity and direction for life-giving, healthy relationships. God has also given each of us specific abilities to use to improve other people’s lives thereby make a living by being a blessing. Every day you have the opportunity to employ your skills and expertise to serve other people by helping to provide the goods and services needed to solve their problems. Every interaction is an opportunity to help our family members, colleagues, and clients win at life. Joy and happiness is intrinsic to life in Christ as God develops the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. God has designed us for joyful life, and is working within us so that we experience that joy daily. 

However, being designed for joy does not mean that we are experiencing joy. We have to make the choice to live in God and be led by the Holy Spirit. We have to train our minds to focus on all that is true, good, and beautiful that God has given us. That is what the Pilgrims did. Separatists from Nottingham, fled from King James I to Holland in 1607. In 1620 they sailed from Plymouth, England to the New World. They were a hundred and two passengers on an overcrowded, under-provisioned Mayflower sailing the ocean for three months! They arrived in the dead of winter with the daunting task of building shelter, finding food, creating arable land, and sustaining themselves until the first harvest. They lost over half of their people that first winter. They had a choice to make. They could be angry, accusatory, frustrated, and demoralized, or they could focus on what they did have -- the bounty they experienced and the community that had been built through difficult times. When they finally brought in the harvest the next year, William Bradford solidified that choice by declaring a Day of Thanksgiving.  

I encourage you this month to make the choice to be thankful for all that God has given you. Here are two simple practices that can set you in the direction of joy: First, keep a gratitude journal. Simply take time each day to write down three things you are thankful for. Do this for the month and you will be amazed at how it refocuses you toward the good gifts God daily provides. Second, write a daily gratitude email or note. Choose a different person each day to let them know the great qualities, abilities, and attitudes you see in them, and how they have blessed you. By doing these simple exercises, you will tip the daily input balance from negative to positive. Rather than surviving, you will begin to thrive. God has designed you to live in joy by choosing to recognize the good and express your gratitude.

Blessings,

Jonathan

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