Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Things we don’t feel like doing. Some result from the daily grind. Some take us out of our routine. Others are inconvenient or threatening.
Once upon a time, I was a morning DJ. That meant “rise and shine” came about 4:00 in the morning. Some days rolling out of bed at that early hour just seemed impossible. But if I wanted to keep my job and a paycheck, I rolled out regardless of how I felt.
We are motivated by desire, reward, responsibility and consequences. “What’s in it for me? And what happens if I pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep?”
Conversely, we are hindered by distractions like fatigue, monotony, pain, worry, or things we’d rather do.
What does this have to do with our focus text? Well, sometimes we don’t feel like coming before the Lord with thanksgiving and praise, or prayer, Bible study, showing up for choir practice, or any of the other activities linked to life with Christ.
Walking with the Lord requires personal discipline. So do diets, exercise, breaking a bad habit, etc. And you know what happens when you take a few days off? You may never get back on.
If you’re a parent, do you recall that exciting moment when your first child was born? What a thrill to bring the baby home. But then came the cries in the middle of the night, messy diapers, colic, feeding, and frantic calls to the doctor. That pretty much sums up life in general. Joy with intermittent discomfort, setbacks, disappointment, and crises.
Are you familiar with the children’s Bible song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart?” It’s fun to sing, but sometimes joy is just not there. Any effort on your part seems like you’re just faking it. The reality, you’ve got a burden down in your heart that has robbed your joy.
As Christians, we’re like a box of Cracker Jacks. Somewhere inside is the prize, and it’s not always easy to find. But it’s there.
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:4-6
Tall order, right? Rejoice always. In case we didn’t get it the first time, Paul repeats. “I will say it again: Rejoice!” And don’t allow your feelings to impair the way you treat others. “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
But Paul, why? How? You don’t know what I’m going through. I feel miserable because….
Stop! “The Lord is near.” For that incredibly amazing reason — “Do not be anxious about anything…”
Then the Apostle gives us a strategy for overcoming those feelings that suppress the joy in our hearts. “…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Yes. The prize in the Cracker Jacks box has been there all along. And it’s only a prayer and word of thanksgiving away.
If you’ll do this, no matter how badly you feel, Paul follows with this wonderful promise:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
On those days when you don’t feel like smiling, rejoicing, or singing…say a little prayer and thank Him. You don’t have to preach a sermon or speak eloquently. “Help me, Jesus. Revive the joy in my heart. And thank you for all you’ve done, and what you’re about to do.” Then trust the Lord for what follows — the peace that “transcends all understanding.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: Battling Depression God’s Way
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.