What is God’s Will for Me?  
This is probably one of the greatest questions a person can ask themselves.  I would dare to say that every person, Christian or not, has thought about this at least once in their life, if not thousands of times.  So is there a clear answer?  The answer is yes!

 1 Thessolonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always;  pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances for this is 
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
This one sentence contains three simple concepts for what God wants from us.  I have memorized this and I think about it many times a day.  I think I am drawn to these verses because they literally tell us what God’s will for us is.  I am not saying we should only do these three commands because the New Testament is full of instructions for living a Christian life but this verse is a great reminder of how he wants us to shine and be different from the world.   
Today we are going to talk about the first part of this sentence:  Be Joyful Always
To some this might sound impossible.  How can God expect me to be happy all of the time.  Well that isn’t what Paul says here.  He says be “joyful” always and there is a clear difference between the two words.  
Webster defines “happy” as feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc. 
 Webster defines “joyful” as feeling, causing, or showing great happiness.
At first glance, those words might seem exactly the same.  The difference I have noticed is that when you are happy it is usually because something good has happened to you or your life is pretty easy at the moment.  Being happy depends on all of the external factors we have in our lives.  Having God’s joy and having the ability to be joyful always goes much deeper than that.  
The word always is the important word here.  It says that no matter what is happening in our lives, good or bad, that we can have the Holy Spirit’s gift of joy always.  What an amazing promise from God!
So what robs us of God’s continuous joy?  It will be different from person to person but most of us are robbed of God’s joy because of worry.  We let worry about earthly problems interfere with our joy that we could be experiencing daily.  We are all going to experience loss or hardships in our lives at some point, but worrying about the future robs you of today’s joy.
How can you have joy when tragedy strikes?  My neighbor is unfortunately an expert in this area.  She lost her little brother in the fall of 2012.  It was very sudden and hard to understand.  Then, in the fall of this year, she lost her mother, and two grandparents in a  car crash.  How can this much hurt happen to one person I thought?  I saw her about a week after her family members passed away, and I remember wondering what I would say to her.   I hugged her and we began to talk.  I was expecting lots of tears to be shed and silence.  However, that wasn’t the case.  I was amazed at her strength and even smiles I saw while talking with her and her family.  How could she have joy after such pain?
I asked her and she told me this:
“Some of you are probably wondering, how do you survive such unbearable tragedy and keep living life? That’s a really good question. I’ll say this first: Through God alone.


Here I am, one month later, giving God the glory for everything that’s happened. It would take many pages of words to explain all the things God has used for good through our loss, but trust me, the blessings have been abundant and unbelievable.  Somehow, God reached down and carried me through on the wings of prayers. He sent friends, family, community, memorized verses of encouragement, and support from places I never could have expected.  He knew what we needed before we did, and he provided for all of those needs in miraculous ways. Whenever we tried to take control and manage a situation, it fell apart. Only when we stepped back, got out of the way, and let Him be in charge of the next ten minutes, the next ten hours, the next ten days, could we find ourselves moving forward one inch at a time.


Several verses came to mind over the course of the weeks following my Mom’s and Grandparent’s joint memorial service. My Mom taught me these special verses, and helped me hide them away in my heart for such a time as this. So if you’re struggling with whether or not those memory verses you spout at your kids over and over and over ever take root, have heart, they do, and they slip into your mind when you most need them later in life.


My all time favorite verse, and one that’s carried me through has been Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.  I’ve never had a time in my life before when I more dearly needed supernatural strength, the ability to trust in the Lord, and the will to allow him to help me. All the while, I found myself rejoicing in the fact my family members were spending eternity with Jesus even as we wept for their parting.
James 1:2-3 says “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
How do you have joy when everything is going well?  That seems like a silly question!  But how many people do you know who mope around and their life is going just fine?  It’s baffling to me that people don’t realize the joy they could be experiencing because they always feel like they need more.  Our lives are often full of self inflicted turmoil because we want to have it all.  We want to control every aspect of our life and hate to let someone help.  The apostle Paul says in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit gave us joy and peace (Galatians 5: 22) in this life if we trust in God and his perfect will.  So smile knowing that God is in control!  Have a joyful day!
This is part 1 in a 3 part series about God’s will.  Check back next week for more!
Check out this great printable from Newlyweds and Nesting:
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