On days when sicknesses pick a fight with the immune system, or batteries run low, or people are mean, it is natural to want to wallow in it – just a little. But when any of these might like to rent some head space or a mention, what would happen if we simply…traded them in? To swap tiredness for joy at the day’s opportunities. To swap a whiny status update for an expression of thanks. To trade the grumpiness of illness for the renewed awareness of caring people and a fighting immune system. Or some of the pain of grief for a more urgent sense of love for the people still in our lives. Even on days of mistreatment, we can treasure a clear conscience, new wisdom, supportive people – and an enormous, loving God who never leaves. Although it’s possible to complain, when I look harder it seems I actually have it almost unfairly good.
“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys” – Rita Schiano
It’s easy to forget that whenever there is an opportunity to do something wrong, there is always an opportunity to do something right (1 Corinthians 10:13). And that whatever harm anyone may do, God is able to turn it into something beneficial (Genesis 50:20). That anything that seems like a set back or mistake can be worked together for good (Romans 8:28). That though we may physically grow weary, we’re inwardly renewed every day (2 Corinthians 4:16). That for every bit of suffering or hardship, there is always a joy to transcend it (2 Corinthians 4:17). And even when everything and everyone is lost, ultimately “it is well with my soul”.
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits” – Psalm 103:2 (NIV)
We’re instructed to rejoice in the Lord always, and then again, to rejoice – everybody one more time now (Philippians 4:4)! That’s 24/7, and although rainbows and fuzzy ducklings aren’t present round the clock, God always is. My favourite thing is that a search for things and people to celebrate and praise never returns void, whether the treasure is big or small. There are countless gifts and supports in so many areas of life that are so easily overlooked.
“… memory may be very strong concerning self-interest, grievances, and trials, and yet towards God’s mercies it may be very weak” – Charles Spurgeon
One way I’ve tried overcoming my senility is using a small portable notebook to record everything I’m grateful for. I add to it whenever something comes to mind, or force myself to add to it whenever my attitude needs recalibrating. I’ve found having small space to be thankful and joyful is not only a delight and encouragement, but a very powerful life tool. While shopping or to-do lists are a common form of reminder for life’s activities, there is perhaps something – or someone – we are more prone to forget than milk or emails. And when all we can think about is unpleasant points to whine about while joy sits available half-price, He’s probably more than worth the swap!