"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
One morning, almost a decade ago, I woke up at 5:45 a.m. to make my husband breakfast before he left for the field. As he walked out the door, I sat in the kitchen amidst a pile of dirty pans and dishes looking out at the sunrise. I slowly garnered enough momentum to heave my 9-plus-month pregnant belly back to the bedroom to try to find sleep again. I tossed and turned for about an hour before opening my Bible to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
The words “Be joyful always” stuck to my heart, as I wasn’t feeling particularly joyful. I was tired, hot, uncomfortable and anxious about the season. Joy was the last thing on my mind. Until…I took a few deep breaths and focused on the Lord’s promise to provide for me and love me unconditionally. Suddenly, joy was within reach!
Is our ability to choose joy dependent upon our circumstances? This is a particularly legitimate question for those in baseball. When life in the game is going well, it’s not so difficult to choose joy. Everything changes, though, when we’re faced with challenges. And in baseball, challenges are plentiful.
Sometimes we ask ourselves, “What do I have to be joyful about?” Our lives are full of uncertainty and risk. Each day, we face tough challenges and questions without clear answers. We tend to focus on the situations that we can’t control. We struggle with the reality of our lives and try to figure out why certain decisions are made. It’s tempting to analyze statistics, watch transactions and worry when the ideal situation does not play out. We miss our families and friends back home. We long for the familiarity of our own bed and hope to someday put the suitcases away for more than a week.
When Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins, he gave us another option: We can choose joy! When we choose joy, we bask in the glory of our Heavenly Father and enjoy an incomparable freedom. We are free from the burden of worry. We know that he will provide for us. Yes, he will allow us to go through dark valleys, but we are called to embrace those experiences just as we do the more obvious blessings.
Prayer: Lord, when the uncertainty of my life seems too heavy to bear, allow me to feel your presence. Thank you for the challenges you allow to come my way. Help me to recognize them as blessings, since they bring me closer to you, and help me to choose joy every day as I celebrate the incredible love you have for me.
Suggested Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5