Years ago, when I was studying to become a pastor, I ran into an old friend of mine in a store. When I told her what I was doing, she was thrilled and offered to pray for me. She put her arms around me and prayed aloud—right there at the checkout! Despite a twinge of embarrassment at this public display, I was deeply touched by the joy she expressed.
Now as a minister, I often find myself praying aloud in unusual settings and situations. I pray over babies. I pray for all sorts of life transitions. I pray final prayers at bedsides and gravesides. Perhaps the most joyous of prayers resembles this one that Paul prays for the church in Colossae. He prays that God will fill their lives with faith and wisdom. He prays that they will grow and that their lives will bear good fruit. Joy courses through Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving and he prays for joy to be active in their lives. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, Paul writes, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light (vv. 11-12).
Thankfulness is the natural expression of joy that comes from God. Giving thanks is key to finding joy. Gratitude helps us recognize and focus on the blessings that surround us. This joy that Paul knows as a Christ follower who is enduring difficult circumstances is the joy that he knows will sustain this church as they endure their own difficult days. Joy, he tells us, is an inheritance from God that enables us to share the family of God.
In what joyful way will you express your gratitude today?
God, may we be filled with the knowledge of you, the joyful love of Jesus, and the wisdom of your Spirit. May we live a joy that reflects a grateful heart. Amen.