God really “shined a spotlight” on these verses right before I went in for my biopsy back in 2003. I was not even really afraid I had cancer, I was just really dreading the procedure and afraid of it being very painful. I was very upset and anxious but I was sure I did not have breast cancer.
Our Passage for Today:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
In case you do not already know, I did have cancer. Laughable, right? In all my certainty that I did not. My breast cancer story is a long, beautiful, grace-filled story which one day I plan to put together and share. For now, though, you are going to get it in bits and pieces. So here is one of those pieces.
I was trying to go about life as normal, as a 37-year-old working mom, with two wonderful sons, ages 11 and 13, and a wonderful husband who was a full-time Bible college student and had a 44 hour/week job. We were also very active in our church. We were busy.
I was a small group leader in one of our ladies’ groups at church. We had our monthly ladies’ meeting scheduled exactly one week before my biopsy date. Our group was called Sisters by Faith. We were a mission circle group but we also wanted our group to be growing significantly in our relationships with the Lord. We worked to have very “meaty” devotionals at our meetings. I was working on the devotional for this upcoming meeting but constantly, in the back of my mind was that biopsy the next week.
I continually asked God to hold me together and to not let the dread consume me and now I was also asking for guidance on what our devotional should be about. When I turned to this page in my Bible, this passage of scripture was like the only thing on the page. It was as if God was shining a spotlight on it.
Now to Our Passage:
“Be joyful always…”
The joy of the Lord – is similar to happiness but not about our physical circumstances. It is a joy that is always inside a believer because Christ is in that believer. This joy of the Lord transcends earthly circumstances and it is actually proven through hardship. I got this info from Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
So the imperative here is “be joyful…” and is talking about not just any joy but the joy of the Lord.
And we are to be joyful when??? Always!
Easier said than done, right? Wait for it…
Now Verse 17:
So staying in contact with God through prayer is how we can be joyful always! We have talked in past entries about keeping in mind that we are always in God’s presence. Talking to Him throughout the day is a good way to do that.
This is also a good indication of why a believer’s joy may not always be present because I for one tend to go through my day without praying continually. Anxiety rises when prayers don’t. I am living proof!
I for one need to find ways to remind myself to always be talking to God. If you see me in a store and I appear to be talking to myself, I might be talking to God… or I might just be crazy. But hopefully I will be talking to God.
Praying continually >>>leads to>>> being joyful always!
The first part of Verse 18:
“…give thanks in all circumstances…”
So many places in God’s Word, He tells us that He matures us in our relationships with Him through hard times. (James 1:2-3) That being said, we can give thanks in all circumstances knowing that He is maturing us!
I will tell you that I grew more in my relationship with God during that six-month cancer journey than I ever had before. I asked Him to hold me together and He did. He held me together, and picked me up and carried me through it. I knew Him on a whole different level in January 2004 than I had in July of 2003.
It was nothing short of incredible. If I could go back and choose whether to have breast cancer or not I would choose to have it! If my breast cancer story is not over yet, I pray that I will go into it excited to see what God does through it.
And the last part of Verse 18:
“…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Now, and even then, I knew God was in control. My life was not spinning out of control even if it felt like it. I prayed that His perfect will would go forth in my body and that Satan’s will would not go forth at all. I know it was God’s will and I am so thankful for it. It was hard but it was amazing.
He is so big! He loves you and me so much! He wants us to live out our lives in close friendship with Him. He wants us to know Him.
You are not here by accident. You clicked on this link today for a reason! Don’t let it go another day!
Lord, I do thank You so much for my whole breast cancer experience. Help me to always be ready for the next journey, whether it is small or monumental! Help all of us be ready for whatever You have for us, knowing that You will go through it with us. Help us anticipate exponential growth with You! Make us all what You want us to be. Help us to glorify You in all we do and make us completely Yours. In Jesus’s lovely mighty name, I pray. Amen.
Go Deeper Today: