Those three words, “continual, not contingent,” struck me right between the eyes on Sunday morning as Brother John talked about thankfulness. My wife is always challenging me to change my perspective, to find something, anything, to be thankful for. She’s always on me about being thankful because I struggle with times of depression, and through those struggles, Lacey and I have realized how closely linked having joy and being thankful really are.
When things are going well in life it’s easy to be thankful, but we all know that life isn’t always perfect, and if our thankfulness, if our JOY, is linked to our circumstances we’ll undoubtedly end up with emotions that look like yo-yo’s, roller coasters, or sine waves. This has been the case for me; my feelings of joy are contingent on how I perceive my life to be going. And in times when I’m slung down into a dip in life’s roller coaster, it is REALLY HARD to have a spirit of thanksgiving.
God has already been working on my heart in this area, but on Sunday I was challenged to think about why my thankfulness and joy are not more continual rather than contingent. So I asked God, “Why am I not more joyful?” His answer hurt.
“Because my joy is not the joy you seek.”
Ouch. Okay, back to Thanksgiving. When I sit around the table at Thanksgiving or thank God for the “many blessings he has given to us” in a prayer, most of the things on my mind are things that I’m thankful for because they give me joy in this world, in the here and now. And it’s certainly right to be thankful for these things, but my primary thankfulness has to come from God and his presence in my life or I am bound for a perpetual ride on the roller coaster of life.
I truly believe that I do seek the joy of the Lord, but it’s the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sunday. God demands to be more than that. God deserves to be more than that.
My hope this week is to reverse the order, to realize in my heart that my thankfulness and joy are COMPLETE in Christ. God’s promise is that if we seek him and his presence above all else we will certainly find abundant joy, a joy and a thankfulness that is continual, not contingent.