Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Many Christians have memorized these verses and recite them regularly. However, have they stopped and really thought about what Paul is exhorting us to do?

Rejoice always. Always. It’s easy to rejoice when things are going well. But what about during dark times? A broken marriage. A terminal illness. A wayward child. Can we really rejoice? I mean, sincerely rejoice?

It’s certainly not easy. And I don’t think Paul meant we’re supposed to rejoice in the circumstances; rather, we’re to rejoice in spite of them. The rejoicing comes from knowing God is working His plan even through the pain, trials, or suffering (see Jer. 29:11 and Rom. 8:28). I live with chronic pain. Not a moment goes by when I don’t feel some kind of pain, and sometimes the pain is severe. I’m in that kind of season right now. I don’t rejoice in the pain; in fact, if I had my way, the pain would go away completely. But I know God will carry me through this season just as He has in the past. And I know He has a purpose for my pain, and I can rejoice knowing He’ll use it for His glory.

Pray without ceasing. I don’t think Paul meant we’re supposed to be on our knees every moment of every day. It’s not practical when we’re also called to work as unto the Lord and care for others. I think pray without ceasing is a mind-set. It’s keeping our Lord God first and foremost at all times. So when something happens—good or bad—our very first thought is to go to the Lord. Talk with Him. Listen to Him.

In everything give thanks. This ties the other two together, I think. If we’re rejoicing in all things and if we’re focusing on God, we’ll be thankful for everything. We’ll be thankful for His blessings—and we’ll tell Him so. We’ll be thankful for the hard times, knowing He’s using them to refine us and for His glory—and we’ll tell Him so.

It comes down to this: If we believe God is sovereign and that He has a loving plan for our lives, we’ll trust Him at all times. We’ll keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him, and we’ll rejoice and be grateful for all He does in and through us.

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