January 23, 2019
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
From Our “Here”…
On my commute to work and back home each day, I pass several gas stations. A number of years ago when prices were wildly fluctuating, a gallon dropped from well over $3 to around $1.55 within a matter of weeks.
Cruising past yet another sign with a mere dollar-something-or-other emblazoned next to every grade of gas, even premium, I found myself smiling.
It made me happy.
In fact, at the shopping center near our home, you can get 3 cents off a gallon by putting the purchase on the store’s gas card in advance as you go through the check-out. With that discount, prices dipped into the $1.40s for a day. But I had a fairly full tank, so I passed it up.
Here’s the whacky truth. The next time I filled the tank, prices were back in the $1.50s. You guessed it. My happiness dipped.
No, it didn’t dive. Just a little dip. But it was noticeable.
So many superficial things can nudge my happiness meter up or down. Isn’t it nuts how we smile or frown based on things that don’t really matter? Gas could skyrocket next month, but if I had to take the bus to work or even ride a bike would that change anything significant in my life or the lives I’m blessed to connect with?
The word “happy” is nowhere to be found in Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians. But there’s plenty of joy and thanks and the assurance of a divine hand leading the believer’s life, and that’s the apostle’s point.
…To God’s “There”
Living on the other side of the world while serving as a missionary includes many daily variables. Missionaries sometimes encounter three-digit inflation in their host countries while their financial support back home is flat-lining or even declining. Forget $3 for a gallon of gas. In countries where gasoline is $5 or $7 a gallon, prices can spike or supplies can dry up altogether. If a residence visa is denied, a missionary may have to leave a country with no sure date of return. A sudden medical emergency in an area with little or no healthcare resources can require an emergency evacuation.
Missionaries carry out their ministries most successfully when their focus remains centered on God’s divine calling to their nation of service and on His many promises of guidance and provision found in His Word. A similar focus should characterize all followers of Christ in whatever roles they might be fulfilling while obeying the Great Commission.
Making the Leap
Build your faith in God’s commitment to meet your needs where you are. Joyfully thank Him for all that He is doing to sustain you in the midst of your current circumstances. Then, be ready for Him to entrust you with other assignments that might possibly take you to the ends of the earth.