8. How to be grateful in even the hard things in life.
I have been trying to practice being more grateful and counting my blessings for the last several years. However I must admit I have always struggled a little with James concept.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
In the NIV instead of steadfastness it says perseverance, and in the NKJV it says patience. Sometimes when things are going wrong all around you, people are getting sick, some are dying, people are losing their jobs and businesses it seems impossible to find any joy in the situation. But you know there is a saying “There is always something to be thankful for”. I’ve seen it on plaques and paintings and yes sometimes you may have to struggle to look hard for it but even in pandemics and in hard years in general, there’s something there. I have mentioned before my Blessings journal that I write 3 blessings down on most days. I won’t say every day but I do try to pull it out and write most days. It may be a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or it may be the way the sun is trying hard through a cloudy, foggy day. It may be a sweet FaceTime with my grands. It may be a random phone call from one or both of my sons. But there is always something there if you just try. And yes when you find the thing to be grateful for it helps to carry you through even the hard stuff of life, I think James was right, it produces steadfastness, or perseverance or patience whatever you want to call it.
9. Sorrow and Joy really can coexist.
And number 8 brings us right into number 9. I have seen sorrow over life circumstances and over pandemics but I have also known the joy of babies being born and laughter of small children still seeing the wonder of Christmas even when Santa wears a mask. I have truly enjoyed all the creative ways the weddings are still happening this year.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5
I am sure I have not been alone in the sorrows that 2020 has brought. But even when things were so hard and they hurt so bad at times, I knew the mercies of the Lord would come if I just held on and waited, and looked for them, and when I found them, I held onto them for dear life so that when I felt the sorrow and weeping come on again, I would remember that the mercies and the joy would come. Just like James says the testing of our faith produces steadfastness which is what builds our faith for the next season of life. We must always always remember.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22
10. Laughter really is good medicine.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
What makes you laugh? When things have been really hard, especially this past year and I started feeling all gloomy in my heart there were times I just didn’t think I could take it anymore. I learned how to guard my heart a little bit. If you are sad and sorrowful already then you should be careful what you take in. Whether it be reading, or watching tv or the news, if your heart is sad do not watch sad things. Instead see if you can find something funny, something to get lost in and to just laugh. Sometimes yes, you have to manufacture the joy in your heart but I promise you if you will be intentional to do so, it will make you feel better if your heart can step away from the sadness and just laugh, even if it is only for a few minutes.
So as we say a big farewell to 2020, let’s also take the lessons we have learned with us. Let us let them build our faith and perseverance and patience and steadfastness to make 2021 our best year yet.
If you go out for NYE please stay safe tonight!