Joyful Angst

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (NLT)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned serving in youth ministry for nearly a decade it’s that teenage angst is truly a reality. Mix hormones and the reality that adulthood is only a few short years away (with all of the requirements such as job, bills, marriage, etc.) and it can make for a very bipolar existence. Teens can be happy and carefree one minute, then, boom, down they go into the dumps. After talking through things a bit, they can usually perk up with a new perspective on life.

But, what happens when things go beyond teenage angst? What happens when we are going through life-altering difficulties? (Whether we are a teen or an adult) A short talk with someone rarely helps the situation – though it helps us as we cope with the situation. As you mull this one over, read the verse up above. “Be thankful in all circumstances.” All? Really?

It’s easy to be thankful to God when things are going well – we’ve got a good job, with good friends, and a great family life. However, the proof, if you will, of the depth to our faith comes in the moments in life when everything is going horribly wrong. Will we abandon the God that gives us life because we hurt? Will we decide that He is a distant, uncaring God because everything is going terribly? Or, will we praise Him through the pain?

In my personal experience, I have found that when I praise God throughout the storms of life, my fear and sorrow are generally replaced with peace. When I’m stressed out and feeling like life is unraveling before my eyes, I sing praises to the King of Kings. Of course, all of this is paired with a regular, moment-by-moment prayer life. I talk stuff over with God, especially the stuff I don’t understand. Though He doesn’t always give me understanding, He does give me assurance that the trouble will pass, He is always working on my behalf, and that He will never let me slip from His grasp. It’s within the context of those promises that I find thankfulness, peace, and joy, because I know He is right.

When you go through trouble in life (and you will on a regular basis), praise God through it. Thank Him for what He has done, is doing, and promises to do. Find His peace. Find His joy.

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