Dreams Interrupted, Part 2

Oh, what a difference a little two-letter preposition makes!

In last week’s blog, I pondered how Christians can respond when “life” interrupts our plans and dreams. I wrote, “The Bible says we are to rejoice always and give thanks for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).”

But that’s not quite right. That Scripture verse says we are to give thanks in everything, not for everything.

When I flew to Texas to see my new grandbaby and then got a stupid cold, I didn’t thank God that I couldn’t see my grandchild as much as I wanted to. But I did choose to rejoice in all the wonderful friends I got to visit during the extra time I had as a result.

My friend who’s dealing with her son’s cancer certainly isn’t going to thank God for leukemia! But she can choose to look for God’s hand in the midst of her circumstances and rejoice in the peace He gives and the blessings He provides along the way.

While I was in Texas, an earthquake hit just a mile away from my home. I returned to a huge mess of things that had fallen off of shelves and out of cabinets. I certainly didn’t thank God for that earthquake! But I rejoiced exceedingly that no one was hurt and the damage was minimal.earthquake 300x400An earthquake hit just a mile away from my home. I returned to a huge mess!

As writers, we don’t have to force ourselves to thank God when our cherished manuscripts are rejected—yet again. But we can rejoice that He has a plan for our writing and trust that He will get whatever He’s called us to write into the hands of the people who need to read it at exactly the right time.

When we choose to thank God in everything, a spirit of rejoicing will reign deep in our hearts, regardless of our circumstances. And that inner spirit of rejoicing will reveal itself in the way we act, think, and speak.

Every once in a while, I catch myself moaning about insufficient time to do everything on my multiple to-do lists.
But when I focus on the Lord, I realize that every single thing on those lists is related to something I chose to do and something God deigned to bless. How can I complain about that?

People often grumble about various details in their lives.
Their spouses. Their houses. Their children. Their jobs.
Their finances. Their friends. I have to wonder what effect their words have on the people around them—especially those who don’t have spouses, houses, children, jobs, money, or friends. I also wonder how much damage those negative words are causing in their own hearts.

We’re all familiar with Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” But how well do we apply those wise words?

If there’s something you can do to change a situation that’s making you miserable, then do it! Before you utter one more word of complaint about it. If there’s nothing you can do to change your circumstances, then make the choice to rejoice. You don’t have to thank God for the difficult situation, but you can thank Him in it. Your words of gratitude will be a sweet aroma to your loving heavenly Father, who promises to work out everything in our lives (Romans 8:28) for His honor and glory, for our ultimately greater joy, and for the benefit of those who don’t yet know Him.

So choose your words carefully. Even the little two-letter prepositions. Especially when you’re telling people what the Bible says!