By Marcia Lee Laycock
Life is never simple. What seems to be a straightforward process ends up a tangle of paper work and bureaucratic details. What should be easy to accomplish becomes a drawn-out process that takes weeks. What should have been a walk in a park ends up a trek through a jungle full of barriers and nasty creatures. And then Murphy’s Law takes effect at every turn – whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. It’s enough to make you (and me) want to flee to the wilderness where life is simple. But of course, in the wilderness there would be a whole new environment where Murphy’s law could and would take effect. You just can’t escape it. That’s life.
And just when you’re feeling justified for feeling angry and frustrated, you read, in the first book of Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Yeah, right! Those three small words, ‘always,’ ‘continually,’ and ‘all’ get caught in the throat when you’ve had a day that seemed to be always, continually and all upside down. When nothing goes right, how can we do what this scripture says? And how can we get back on track when we have been anything but joyful, prayerful and thankful?
After blowing it badly, I’ve discovered the key is to start with the three words at the end of that last sentence. I’ve discovered it doesn’t work to try and force joy into my life when I’m angry. It doesn’t work to try to pray when I’ve just been the reason for someone else’s bad day. It doesn’t work to tell myself to be thankful when all I can see is the negative side of the circumstances. The only thing that works is to be ‘in Christ Jesus.’ If I had taken the time to put myself there before the day began I have no doubt it would have been different. Murphy’s Law may still have taken effect, but it would not have affected me the way it did. If I had taken the time to be “in Christ,” I would have had joy in spite of circumstance, prayer would have come naturally and thanks would have been the result. And someone else’s “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” might not have been.
I blew it badly, but the good news is, God is patient with us all. He’ll wait for us to calm down and get a grip. He’ll still be there when we realize the only way to joy, prayer and thankfulness is through Him. Start with Him, remain in Him, and rely on Him. And always be thankful.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving.
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