Here we are in July already and as I write the country is waiting to see if government restrictions will finally be lifted this month. We have certainly learned how to adapt more quickly to whatever comes and maybe we have learned also how to live more fully in the present.
As the country slowly starts to open up and we have a little more freedom, people are wanting to celebrate. Weddings which may have been postponed a number of times are now taking place as are baby baptisms. It has been my pleasure and privilege to have been involved in both recently and they were such happy occasions. They got me thinking about joy and gratitude.
Weddings and baby baptisms are just the kind of occasions where we can share in the celebration and they are such happy events yet I recognise there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness perhaps depends more on what’s happening around us, it’s an emotion that brings elation yet the feeling will fade. However, I sense that joy is something deeper that bubbles up from within and depends less on what is going on around us.
One of the ways we can nurture joy in our lives is by intentionally practising gratitude. Whatever our circumstances, gratitude turns our hearts away from ourselves and towards God as we give thanks and perhaps gratitude might become a practice for us. David Steindl-Rast reminds us that, “it is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
So how do we nurture joy? Some people keep gratitude journals as a way of intentionally giving thanks and growing joy. Others in their evening prayers look over their day and give thanks for specific gifts. As we practice gratitude, perhaps we can learn to identify moments we are thankful for as they happen, because in giving thanks we are only doing what we are encouraged to do. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says;
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
What do you give thanks for?
May your days be filled with gratefulness and joy
Your friend and minister