Rejoicing always can be a challenge, but is important

In our church’s sermon yesterday, the pastor quoted from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “ Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Powerful words, right?! (image from Power Point Clip Art) 

Jesus told us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything? Seriously Lord? You really want us to do this? You really expect us to do this? It is a challenge what we are called to do. Also, it can often be just what we need. After all, the Lord does work in mysterious ways. 

As hard as this year has been, there have been good points and times that I cherish. Extra time with my son to talk during breakfast, prayer group chats, time to watch a favorite show or movie, Zoom chats with family and friends, phone calls and texts, cards in the mail, and time to cook a few favorite meals. Also, I like that we don’t have to race out of the door each morning.

Still I miss seeing friends and my sister and brother and their families. It has been since last year that we saw them in person. Too long but we are all trying to be careful and listen to the doctors, researchers, scientists, and others who know how serious this pandemic really is. 

I also miss my friends, going to church, seeing people at Ian’s school and around town, eating at a favorite restaurant, and so much more. I am thankful that there are ways to handle that, just not the same as we are used to. We can Zoom or chat with our friends, see them outside with masks on, listen to an online church service singing the hymns at home, and getting take out food or going through the drive-thru. 

So there are things to rejoice about and to give thanks about. Just sometimes, we have to think about them. Sometimes they don’t come as easily since we can get bogged down in the bad stuff of life. I have learned through my struggles that having joy and positive things in my life made a big difference. It cannot be all bad to be able to heal from the pain and sadness. 

This year I am praying a lot – for family, friends, my son and his classmates, his teachers and all of the other teachers in our lives, his school administrators, other families at his school and those all over the world in this time of new education, college students, and those at other schools as well. 

We also pray for our loved ones’ health and the health of the nurses and doctors who are taking care of so many sick people, the first responders from many departments, all hospital staff, and the police officers. We pray for those in the military, in positions of leadership, and our elected officials. 

I know that this Christmas will be like one I have never seen.  We have always spent time with lots of family and friends — both on my side and on Kirk’s side. This year that is not possible. In my families, there will be no large gatherings — at least not in person.

As hard as that is, we know it is the right thing to do for this year. So much is still unknown about the virus that we need to be careful and mindful of keeping our loved ones healthy and safe. 

So this year will be quieter, smaller, and hopefully with some real quality time with those nearest and dearest to us. Sleeping in, games and chats, laughter, study, some time to work (but not much), songs, favorite movies, and reading of the story of Jesus’ birth. 

A few things I am thankful for: 

  • Despite not getting to sing “Silent Night” by candlelight at my church, we can sing it at home. Also, I recorded a TV special about this precious hymn. I look forward to watching that. 
  • Bible study in the evening with my son. This was his idea and for that, I am truly thankful. 
  • My family who I treasure so much and am enjoy shopping for. Secret Santa gifts are a great idea. 
  • Cards from loved ones about their year. We are sending one out as well. 
  • My friends near and far who are never more than a call, text, or Zoom away. 
  • Time with my son’s best friend and our families for their birthday celebrations. 
  • Plenty of time to watch some favorite movies and TV shows. 
  • Zoom chats with family and friends. 
  • Being able to sit under a blanket and read a book. 
  • Looking at my son’s art work and creativity and listening to him explain it. 
  • Our home with many memories with us and my late husband. We miss him but each day continue to heal. 
  • Listening to my son on a Zoom call with friends. They love to laugh and that is wonderful. 
  • Days off from work to enjoy the season of giving, loving, and peace. 

I hope and pray that you can find the blessings in your life, despite all of the hardships. I pray for peace and joy for you. I also pray that you will always, always love.