I’d hoped to make a lightning-quick convenience store run to pick up a few items I needed before leaving town. As I zoomed my cart up to the check out, the woman in front of me was just paying for her order. Perfect.
However, the lady then asked for cigarettes. She got out a bank card to pay for them, but the machine wouldn’t take it. The checker proceeded to just wait. Five minutes turned into fifteen as he kept trying her card. Only one register was working, so other customers lined up behind me.
I’d love to say that I stayed calm and smiling. Instead, I started fuming. Why doesn’t he wait on the rest of us before trying her card again? Why don’t they open another register?
Ten minutes later, I huffed out of the mini-mart. I’d left my joy behind somewhere between the candy and the batteries at the check-out line.
I bet you’ve experienced similar hassles. Life is full of trials and troubles that threaten to ruin our days if we let them. The kids fight. You burn dinner.
Paul knew all about trouble, and he wrote us this bit of advice from a Roman jail. It’s every bit as fresh today as when he wrote it 2000 years ago:
More powerful than dynamite, this one little verse contains three secrets to hanging on to joy:
1. Rejoice in the Lord
Even in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, you have reasons to rejoice if you look to the Lord to find them. If you’ve put your faith in Christ, today you’re deeply loved, completely accepted, and fully forgiven by God. ** What if we started counting God’s kindnesses instead of complaining when things go wrong?
2. Let your gentleness be evident to all.
Nothing steals our joy like encounters with problematic people. You know them. They’re the ones like me in line at mini-mart: tired and grumpy. It’s counter-intuitive, but gentleness can be the strongest weapon we have for diffusing blow-ups with difficult people during our day. When the heat is on, a gentle word and a firm refusal to take offense can cool us down and calm the atmosphere. What if we made an extra effort to be gentle the next time the kids start fighting?
3. Remember the Lord is near.
What comfort it brings to remember that God is near to us whether we’re waiting at the auto repair shop or at the funeral home. In His presence is fullness of joy. You can rest secure knowing that no matter what comes across your path, God is just a prayer a way. He’s got you covered, and He’ll respond quicker than you can call.
No matter what snafus you stumble upon today, look to the Lord if you need reasons to rejoice. Breathe deep and let your gentleness shine. Remember God is with you.
Now it’s your turn. Do you find it harder to hang on to joy in December?
**This idea is from Search for Significance by Robert McGee.