Last month, I boarded a plane for Pittsburgh for a Salvation Army Board meeting. There was nothing new or out of the ordinary about the day; I’ve boarded thousands of flights across the country for work trips over the years. At one time, I really looked forward to a new adventure in a city, anticipating the things I would see, people I would meet, and work I would accomplish.
These days, that sense of adventure is drowned out by the struggle my daughter, Annie, faces daily with severe chronic pain. Each time I leave her, even for only one night, worry replaces the excitement I used to feel.
God gave me a wonderful gift during my morning devotional the morning I left for Pittsburgh: a reminder that He wants me to be joyful in order to draw others nearer to Him. I needed that reminder as anxiety over my daughter’s well being threatened to strangle the joyful anticipation we experience when following where God leads us.
Paul encourages us in Ephesians 5:9-10 to “live in the light” and “find out what pleases the Lord.” And how are we to know what pleases Him? By turning to His word, which shows us seven ways we can please the Lord:
- By praising Him all day long (Psalm 113:1-3)
- By living in the light (Ephesians 5:8)
- By making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16)
- By being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20)
- By submitting to one another in love (Ephesians 5:21)
- By being humble (Isaiah 66:2)
- By submitting to His word (James 1:22)
I realized that my worry about Annie, though understandable and justified, was keeping me from praising the Lord in all things, living in the light, making the most of every opportunity, and being joyful in Him. I asked God to open my eyes to the opportunities He wanted to give me to encourage others and help them draw nearer to Him and to replace my worry with the joyful confidence that Annie would be taken care of in my absence.
My daughter continues to be so filled with joy despite the pain she faces each day. She is an inspiration to me and many others who are fighting their own battles, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Let us continue to fight the good fight, seeking to please God in the midst of our pain and worry so that we have open eyes and open hearts to see and know what God is calling us to do.