PEACE. Lately I don’t think I have been at peace as often because of not living out of thankfulness. My mind jumped to the service learning trip I participated in on spring break in Nicaragua. The people I interacted with in the community of Los Fierros were some of the most joyful people I have ever met. Their priorities were God, their family, and friends. These people could be considered poor by monetary worldly standards but were rich in so many important ways. They were thankful for the little things; time spent with people they cared about, going to visit the river, sharing meals with one another, playing soccer in a field, the list could go on. When I was in Nicaragua I felt a sense of peace coming from these people that I had never before experienced. Their faith was strong, and they were confident that God would provide for them. They were taking life day by day and finding joy despite the circumstances they faced.
I am continually reminded that joy is a choice. We can choose to live in despair, dwelling on the past, with fear of the future, in a constant state of worry. Or we can choose joy, being thankful for what God has done, is doing, and will do in the future. I must wait with expectant hope, knowing that God will provide and be faithful to the plan He has for my life. Part of choosing to be joyful each day involves being thankful for the small blessings throughout the day. Whether it is getting to spend time outside with God sitting under a tree by the lake, waiting on customers who are super kind, enjoying the times of watching old TV shows with my mom, or going to apple orchards with friends there is always something to be thankful for.
“I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life”
Psalm 56: 12-13
During this period of waiting it is easy to worry and fret about what the schools will say, easy to be anxious until December when I hear a decision. However, I can also look at the blessings that this period of waiting is resulting in. It is allowing me to work to save some money to provide costs for expenses I will soon face. It is allowing me to spend extra time with my family, as I haven’t seen them much the past three years while in college. It is allowing more time to spend with God and read some good books. It is allowing me to focus on my health more again, to go the gym and go for runs in God’s beautiful creation. It is allowing me time to experiment with trying new healthy recipes. It is allowing me time to just be, to not have to worry about so many obligations like I had during college. It is allowing me to recharge, to be mentally prepared for what is in store next.
Rather than let circumstances define me, I can give all of those circumstances to God and trust Him with them. Releasing the things that are not in my control will allow me to find peace in the present moment. Joy and peace are not dependent on what will happen in the future. I can find those based on what Jesus has done on the cross for me, allowing me to have a relationship with God. I can be joyful because of the opportunity to live in the light rather than the darkness. Joyful because I am the daughter of a God who loves, a God who protects, a God who is faithful, a God where I can find rest, a God who hears my voice even if the world doesn’t, a God who cares, a God who is all-knowing, a God who is creative, a God who woos me with sunsets, a God who I can call a Father. He is with me, giving me all the reason to rejoice.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18