This weekend we went on an adventure, my best friend from high school and I. We rode the bus to Orlando from Tennessee.
The bus was awesome and clean and safe feeling, and we got a break in Atlanta for a couple of hours. That’s when things got interesting.
There we were trekking through downtown Atlanta with roll-on suitcases, heavy backpacks and (for me) Chaco’s that didn’t fit. We were fresh off the bus with four hours to kill and no where to leave anything and my friend Amanda kindly suggested that we save money by walking to the mall that was like 20 feet from the next train stop, rather than hopping on the train and riding there.
Not 30 minutes before I’d been staring out the window of the bus, admiring beautiful Georgia countryside, thinking how lovely it was to be off work and dozing in and out of a nice nap. Now my clothes were soaked with sweat from Georgia humidity, I was thinking the air conditioning and nearby water fountain in my office were somehow preferable to this, and sleep was a thing of the past.
How is it we swing so quickly from contended to discontented? I do it all the time. I’m all smiles and rainbows one minute, depths of despair the next.
And what changed to make me so depressed? Circumstances.
The air conditioned bus became the hot Atlanta street.
The major I was all fired up over when I started college became rather uninteresting when classes started getting tougher.
A friendship lost its luster after distance made it a lot of work to keep up.
My exciting summer camp job turned into wanting to run home at the first sign drama between the staff and long hours in the hot sun.
You get the idea.
I’m no stranger to difficult circumstances, I don’t think any of us are. We all know what it’s like to have them ranging from mildly uncomfortable to major tragedy. The question is, what do we do with them?
Well it comes up in verses that God often brings back to mind in my life because I cannot seem to remember them the first time I’m told.
The first is Philippians 4:4, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”
Being happy may be a fleeting feeling, but this joy Paul’s talking about is something that is supposed to stick with you for a lifetime: if you choose it. If you don’t choose to take hold of it now, it will plague you later that you haven’t grasped God’s joy.
But I find that’s still pretty difficult to do, isn’t it? Some days, there just doesn’t seem enough to be thankful for, and that helps a girl toward discouragement rather than encouragement. So what then? That’s what the later part of the chapter comes in.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phillippians 4:11-13.
And it’s that last part that’s really it, that explains how it’s done. It sounds super hard to hang around and feel the joy and thanksgiving toward God I’m supposed to feel during just a fun outing in Tennessee, or a tough outing in Atlanta, and much of both of them was fun, so as it’s ending with a struggle over the end,we are thinking of ways to make it easier. But we have something much better than comfortable walking shoes and a personal savior. We have his help in every situation, and that’s something that’s worth praising for.
And so, as they like to say in one of my favorite series, The DragonKeeper Chronicles, quests are uncomfortable things, but they sure do teach you a lot.