"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Lately, my husband and I have enjoyed watching The Amazing Race on television. It's a reality show where multiple teams of two (I think it starts with 10 teams) compete to be the first to travel around the world. Each week there are challenges and tasks they must perform as they attempt to reach their destination without elimination. We get a kick watching the different personalities interacting and seeing how they strategized through various challenges.
This past season there was a certain team that was "out there" in every way; by the way they dressed, talked and especially how they interacted with one another. Not wanting to pass judgement on them, I gave them every chance to redeem themselves with each new episode, but by the end they just proved to be the most unhappy, whiniest people I've ever witnessed in real life or on T. V. They were so close to being in the final four but lost the chance when their whiny attitudes over took their good judgement and cost them the race.
In contrast, the top three racing teams remained positive (even joyful) in the midst of struggle, hopeful of their goal, and always thankful for the opportunity to travel the world with the people they loved.
I caught myself whining this morning. I was shocked at how easy it was to start a rant and how difficult it was to turn the struggle into joy. Then, God brought me to Paul's words. Just like us, the first century Christians found it easier to whine about the struggles of life instead of enjoying their new found life in Christ. Paul didn't discount their fears or concerns but rather turned their attention to what really mattered: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" Colossians 1:27b.
That's the prize. That's the goal of this race called Life. Through Christ in us, we bring God's hope, His Kingdom into this hurting, struggling world. Joined with Him we help to bring His redemptive powers, His healing. This Race is so much more than us and all our struggles. It's about the hope of God's glory.
Author Madeline L'Engle sums it up best for me: "(Jesus') joy came from his constant awareness of his Source (God) that takes away our fears and not only allows us, but prods us, even commands us to enjoy our faith."