Gratitude Encourages Joy
Excerpted from Keys to Joy, a Bible study on finding joy in life.
This section was written by my dad, Ken Williams.
The situation couldn’t have been worse. I felt miserable in the sweltering heat. After nine wonderful days ministering to missionaries in the high mountains of Pakistan, I squeezed into a minibus going to Islamabad to begin the twenty-four-hour trip home. When I got to the broiling hot airport, it was packed with a mass of elbowing, shoving people. At the reservation desk, they said I didn’t have a reservation for the flight. The standby list looked discouragingly long, but it was worth a try.
After two blistering hours, the flight was ready. They called name after name on the standby list. I was about to lose hope when my name was called. But my joy evaporated when the clerk said, “Oh, you’re going to Karachi. Sorry, we’re only taking standbys to the first stop, Lahore. Maybe you can fly tomorrow.” I was stunned. I knew no one in Islamabad. I didn’t speak the language. I had no place to stay and no money or credit card. To make matters worse, I would miss all connecting flights to the U.S.
Close to despair, I walked away from the counter. Immediately the Lord brought to mind a verse, Zephaniah 3:17. I’d been meditating on it during the trip. It says, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Forget that verse! I’d rather stew in my misery. But the Lord wouldn’t let me off that easy.
Prompted by Him, I decided I wouldn’t let my situation control me. So I found a seat in the corner of that stifling room and began to express my gratitude to God for the wonderful truths from that Scripture. I admit that I didn’t feel like thanking God. But I decided to keep doing it until the Lord aligned my feelings with the reality of His truth. I praised Him in my heart and expressed my thanks to Him. After a little while God began to remove my wretched frustration and self-pity and to replace it with genuine joy—a joy completely independent of my circumstances!
After at least twenty minutes of praising God, the unbelievable happened. My name was called. I thought the plane had already left, but the clerk said, “Oh, I’m glad you’re still here. I called Lahore, and they said you could go on this flight.” I was so glad I didn’t leave the airport in despair!
I don’t know if the Lord answered in response to my gratitude. But, to my surprise, getting on the plane didn’t really matter that much anymore. God’s joy had completely replaced my frustration. Do you find that hard to believe? If you’ve experienced God’s powerful joy in difficult situations, you don’t. If you haven’t experienced it, I hope you will soon.
Did you know that the Bible never commands us to feel grateful? God knows that our feelings follow our actions. He tells us to give thanks, knowing that as we do this we will begin to feel thankful if we continue to do so.
Gaylyn Williams, author of Co-author of Never Do Fundraising Again: A Paradigm Shift from Donors to Lifelong Partners. This is a great resource for any missionaries, short-term or long-term, who has to raise their support. Consider getting it as a gift!
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