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  • Writer's pictureChaka Heinze

Depressed Day 4: Mental Manure

Updated: Dec 1, 2017

This week has been a good week.

That sounds funny coming from me, doesn't it? But truly, this week has been a good week. I'm not saying that this week felt good. Decidedly, there were times that it felt very not good! But, the expectation that things need to feel good before you can appreciate their value is, at best, juvenile. This week I remained in God's will, and as his child, that is what I am here to do. And thus I can say, "It has been a good week."

Today, the sun is shining and I got the chance to brave the negative temperatures to go and work out at the community center.

It felt victorious. As I drove along in my swagger wagon (my minivan for those of you not as hip as myself), I reflected on my scripture for the week: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). I was struck by all of the action words used in the verse.

Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks.

These are actions that are not dependent on my feelings. My feelings are us unreliable as sunshine during a Nebraska winter! And for God to command me to do anything based on sentiments outside of my control would be like him telling me to "be wealthy always" or "be healthy always" or "make sure that everyone likes you all of the time." God does not ask the impossible of me.

For some of us, it's time to understand – perhaps for the first time – that joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is based on the right circumstances at the right time, while joy is a "mindset rather than a particular set of circumstances". Joy is an attitude of gratitude and a hope in the goodness of God and his promises, that can remain unaltered despite our darkest moments.

Obviously I am speaking to fellow Christians when I say that joy in the Lord is powerful and gives us both courage and stamina to face life's most dire challenges. In a sermon entitled "Learning to Rejoice" on March 11, 2001, Rev Bruce Goettsche writes that joy comes from:

· knowing that you are loved by God

· knowing that you are forgiven not because of your penance but because of His grace

· knowing that no matter what happens, you are going to be alright

· knowing that no matter what the world takes from you, it cannot take that which is most valuable

· knowing that this life is but a training ground for the life that is to come

· knowing that you are forgiven not because of your penance but because of His grace

Joy is a choice everyone empowered by the Spirit of God can make. And so are the next commands of the scripture to pray and give thanks. Note that the scripture does not say to give thanks for the circumstances (though as a Christian, I am especially thankful for some of the hardest circumstances that have helped to shape both myself and the people I love). But the scripture says to give thanks in the midst of those circumstances.

Thank God for his grace, his mercy, his salvation, his redemption, his love, his wisdom and on and on and on.

Thank God that in every single hardship he is working to benefit those who love him! Romans 8:28 tells me this is true.

And that's where I sit on day four of my challenge to myself to meditate on 1Thessalonians 5--at peace and trusting that God will grow something beautiful from all of my mental manure.

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