In the midst of our circumstances it is often hard to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). It is hard to realize that this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus; and that we are to be thankful in all of life (I Thessalonians 5:16). Lately I have been stuck in the “how” of being joyful in the midst of my circumstances.
Psalm 119:1-8 provided me a progression of steps that led me to a joyful heart:
- Seek (v. 2) – “But seek first His kingdom…” (Matt. 6:33 NIV)
- Learn (v. 7) – Learn what you seek
- Keep (v. 2) – Keep what you learn
- Walk (v. 3) – Walk in obedience to what you learn
- Praise (v. 7) – Praise as you learn and walk therein
In verse 7, we find that praise is connected to learning. “I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.” The little word “as” is a connector indicating there is a direct relationship between learning and praising.
Seeking results in a wealth of learning. We store up that wealth as we “keep” what we learn. Only through our learning are we able to walk in obedience; to walk through our circumstances (no matter how difficult) with joyfulness of heart, praising the Lord.
God’s Word gives us the ability to “rejoice always”. Our ability to respond with joy and to be thankful in the midst of our circumstances comes from our “learning”. The transforming Word frees us from discouragement and depression that threatens to settle within as we walk through each day.
One reason to “seek first” is that our seeking is a hinge for action. Without seeking, how shall we learn to walk? Without seeking our capability for growth in the Lord is limited. The time we spend seeking the Lord correlates to our ability to walk in obedience.
If you are struggling to be joyful and thankful in the midst of your circumstances, I encourage you to go to the Word. Seeking the Lord brings a joyful heart able to “rejoice in the Lord always.” Seeking the Lord gives strength to accept where we are and to be thankful for “His will for you in Christ Jesus.” His Word answers the “how” to move in to joyfulness!
dust + Deity = seeking and knowing, thanking and praising