Last evening I had the wonderful privilege of helping my 5 year old granddaughter, Kwynce, learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels. Her older sister, Kihryn, was there cheering her on and encouraging her with promises of dollar bills if she reached various challenges, like “Ride all the way to the pink chalk line I drew in the driveway.” My wife, Donna, was there observing, as was Kwynce’s mom and dad. It was an enjoyable time and, as I explained to Kwynce, “This is a day you will never forget!”
Kwynce is typically a cheerful and optimistic little soul, and last evening was no exception. After each attempt, if she fell short of the goal, she would jump up and offer a positive observation (which were really encouragements to herself):
- At least I didn’t hit your car!
- I made it farther than I did the last time!
- I’m not crying when I fall off!
Kwynce chose to look at a positive aspect of each failed attempt instead of becoming discouraged and quitting. I began to think about Paul’s letter to the people in Thessalonica in which he encouraged them to “rejoice always” and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (Thessalonians 5:16,18). These encouragements by Paul were not hollow platitudes. He demonstrated many times in his life as an apostle his dogged determination to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances. For example, after Paul and Silas were beaten with rods in Philippi for casting demons out of a fortune telling slave girl, they were thrown in prison where their feet were fastened in stocks. Paul and Silas began to pray and sing praises instead of becoming discouraged and grumbling about the abuses they suffered. God intervened by causing an earthquake, their chains were miraculously loosed, and people were saved as a result (Acts 16:16-34).
Very few of us have been beaten with rods and thrown in prison with our feet being locked in stocks. The inconveniences and discomforts we suffer are typically much less severe, yet our first response often is to grumble, to not rejoice, and to not give thanks. Kwynce’s cheerful outlook, and the example of Paul and Silas can serve to show us that we really do have multiple opportunities, “10,000 reasons,” to rejoice and give thanks to God on a daily basis:
You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
(from “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin)