Once September rolls around in the Haynes household, there is one thing you can guarantee will happen, and no, it is not the kids going back to school. The fall is about football here. Football on Saturday, football on Sunday after church, even football on Monday and Thursday (at least when those games are good.) Now here we are and it is already January and “Wild Card Week!”

As a father, I have always desired to sit and watch football with my son. I would do it with my daughter too, but outside of the fact she knows the right team to root for, the New York Giants, she hasn’t quite caught the bug yet.

Since I have two kids and my daughter is not that interested in sports, my hope and desire would be to watch football and other sporting events with my son. However, there is one minor problem. My son, who is non-verbal, has autism and Down Syndrome. These things, by themselves, do not disqualify him from loving football with me. But his functioning is low. So, the idea of being able to sit, watch the game, and have interaction around it together seemed like like it would simply remain a dream for me.

Or would it?

Recently, something has changed. My son has taken an interest. Not only has he enjoyed watching football but also basketball, boxing, wrestling, NASCAR, and any sporting event where there is movement and action. (Sorry baseball fans, but there is not enough action to capture his attention.)

Clarence is enjoying football alongside his son with new gratitude.

For the last few months, which began with the NFL playoffs earlier this year, we have been watching sporting events together. We have even created our own weekend ritual. On Saturdays and Sundays after church, we go to the basement. We leave the girls upstairs (even though they are welcome to join us) and we watch football on TV. We spend our Sunday afternoon watching the games. Now he doesn’t sit there the entire game. Sometimes he gets up and runs around the basement and then he will come back to it. Regardless, there is an incredible joy I get knowing I am sharing something with my son that I have always dreamed of. It may not look exactly the way I pictured it, but it brings me the same joy.

What is my point in all of this? This story reminds me of an important scripture that I want you to pay close attention to today. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The mandate we have as parents and as believers in Jesus Christ is to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. When the Bible says all, guess what it means… all. This is not only a mandate, but God’s will for your life. If you have ever wondered what God’s will for your life is, you can start right here.

As a parent of a child who has special needs, sometimes it is possible to miss the opportunities to rejoice and give thanks. We can miss the opportunities to celebrate what our children can do because we get so focused on what they can’t do. When we do this, we miss the wins, which are a big part of why we can rejoice.

It may not look exactly the way I pictured it,
but it brings me the same joy.


I have discovered when I am not rejoicing, it is usually because I am comparing my child or my situation to someone else’s, which appears to be better than mine. However, that is not the command from the Lord. We are called to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances.

With that I want to give encouragement you today with a question. As you think about your child and your situation in this new year, what can you rejoice about and what can you be thankful for?

I would encourage you not to just think about these things but write them down. This will allow you to see all that you have to be thankful for.

Recently as I was thinking about this, a thought came to me. Sometimes we miss the blessings we have because we are focusing on the blessings we want. This is not how God wants us to live.

God wants us to rejoice and be thankful in every circumstance. I want to encourage you to join me in doing just that.

My blessing may seem small to someone on the outside, but it means so much to me. I am deeply thankful for it. I believe your experience will be the same. I am positive there are wins you have experienced that you can be thankful for, and when you think of them, rejoice and give God thanks. No one else may understand why you are thankful, but you will know why, and God will know why.

And perhaps that is the win that really matters after all.

Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His latest book is titled The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com


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