Continued from here.
The first step toward choosing a good attitude is becoming aware that it is, in fact, a choice. As long as you believe you are a helpless victim of your circumstances and emotions, you will behave as if that is the case. The truth is that Jesus gave us his peace before ascending into heaven, so we always have access to it. We are not helpless victims – we have the ability to choose our reactions to whatever is going on around us.
Take Paul and Silas for example. They were brought up on charges before the magistrates, attacked by a crowd, stripped, beaten with rods, severely flogged, and thrown into prison with their feet fastened in stocks. If they were helpless victims of their circumstances and emotions, they should have been a bit grouchy after this, right? But they weren’t. Instead, they prayed and sang hymns until about midnight while the other prisoners listened.
What were the other prisoners listening to? It wasn’t a bunch of complaining and whining about their terrible circumstances. Instead, they were praising God! As a result of their choosing a good attitude, the jailer and his entire household became Christians. There’s also anecdotal evidence that perhaps some of the prisoners came to know Christ as well – after all, why else would they not have fled when given an opportunity to do so?
When we choose a good attitude amidst difficult circumstances, God’s light shines even more brightly into a dark world. The ways of the world are to grumble, moan, and complain when things don’t go our way, so people are generally unhappy unless they are pleased with their present circumstances. God’s ways are different – He tells us to rejoice always, not only when we like our circumstances. We have access to joy at all times, and we can choose to tap into that joy, no matter how difficult our current circumstances are.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing in the rain with a broken umbrella, beneath the words “Current Mood.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]