Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:16-18)
In this season when we are rightfully more deliberate about expressing our thanks to God, I find it interesting that doing so is actually part of God’s will for our lives. Along with continuous rejoicing and prayer, Paul commands us to give thanks in everything. If we look closely, we see that each action is ongoing and each is independent of circumstances.
If we’re honest, being thankful when the circumstances don’t seem to warrant it is hard. This is why, I believe, Paul tags the “in Christ Jesus” on at the end of verse 18 – he knew that we couldn’t live this way outside of the empowerment of Christ. Human nature says rejoice when things go your way; pray when you need something; give thanks only for the good things.
Interestingly, the church Paul was writing to was founded amidst great opposition and persecution. Humanly speaking, they didn’t have a whole lot to be glad about in their circumstances. So, how could they possibly fulfill Paul’s charge? As one commentator wrote, “They thought more of their Lord than of their difficulties, more of their spiritual riches in Christ than of their poverty on earth, more of the glorious future when their Lord should come again than of their unhappy past.”
Do you spend more time being thankful to God for what you do have in life, or more time focused on what you don’t? One focus will lead to joy; the other will be a kill-joy. This isn’t a command to ignore or overlook the struggles in life; however, as we acknowledge them, may we also continue to rejoice, pray, and give thanks to the One who helps us endure. –Dave
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