Reasons to Rejoice

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. (Psalm 107:1-2, ESV)

Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmastime are cyclical seasons that slow us down to reflect and express gratitude. Thanksgiving gathers. Advent anticipates. Christmas celebrates. The thread that binds them together is the Lord’s steadfast love.

Josh Nelson, Bill Euler, and I recently returned from a week in Kenya. We joined Athletes in Action to share the message of Jesus Christ and build relationships through the game of golf. We visited five courses where we taught clinics in the morning and played with members in the afternoon. After play, we gathered with our new friends sharing our personal stories around golf and our faith in Jesus.

Our team met every morning for a devotional and to pray for our day. I shared our first devotional on gratitude because no matter how well we set our plans, we needed to have gratitude when they did not unfold as expected (an hourly reality in Kenya). Gratitude and joy are intimately connected; you can’t have one without the other. Remaining grateful kept us in anticipation for why we were there.

On the heels of gratitude, Eric Nelson encouraged us with Psalm 107 to give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love. The psalmist wrote about four groups of people who turned away from the Lord. But when they cried out to God in their distress, his steadfast love delivered them and redeemed them from their trouble.

Bill reminded us that we are to abide in Jesus so that we can bear good fruit. Josh explained that God gives us kairos moments—opportunities for personal growth and moments to invite others to turn toward Jesus. Dean Bouzeos encouraged us to direct our eyes, our feet, our hearts, and our worship toward Jesus on our last day.

Pondering our days in Kenya as I sit in the comfort of my own home, I give thanks to the Lord and celebrate his steadfast love that bound our team together for the work God called us to do in Kenya.

My week in Kenya reminded me of the importance to slow down and express my gratitude, to anticipate God’s steadfast love, and to celebrate the moments where God is intervening in my life and others.

And the best gift of God’s steadfast love that we get to celebrate at Christmastime is Emmanuel, God with us.

Tracy Hanson
December 13, 2018
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