“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” If you were to ask me the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, I think these words from today’s scripture would sum it up very well. It’s easy to be happy when everything is going well. And it’s easy to be thankful when we have what we want. I saw a t-shirt once that said: I’m easy to get along with… as long as you do things my way! It’s meant to be humorous but, really, there’s a deeper truth here, which is that we are all selfish by nature. When things don’t go our way, we get angry, or anxious, or afraid. Is there anything in your life today that causes you to not be joyful or thankful? Most of us have something. But God’s word for us today is that we are to recognize that He loves us so much that we can give our troubles to Him. There’s a song we sing in church that says in part, “I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my shame, I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” This past year has been a difficult one for our family. I’ve asked so many times, Why did this have to happen? There are no easy answers, and yet, we lay it down and choose to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. May the peace of that starry night in Bethlehem rest on you today and always! Amen.UPDATE Last night, someone on FB shared this video from a Ukrainian pastor who passed away only a couple of days ago. It is about being thankful in the midst of suffering. Pastor Peter had been suffering from cancer and was near the end of his life when he preached this to his Odessa church on Oct. 24, 2011. He uses the same verse from Thessolonians that I used in my Advent devotional above. As you hear him speaking of bread, know that he himself wasn't able to eat because of his cancer.
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