“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonian 5:16-18). These scriptures imply that the Christian’s life should consistently be characterized by continuous joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.
But if we would be honest, it is hard to rejoice when bad things happen. When your home is burglarized, your car is stolen, your child is sick, or your spouse wants a divorce, you don’t want to rejoice. When you are offended, angry, or insulted, you do not want to pray. And when God does not answer your prayers the way you thought he should, you most certainly do not want to give him thanks. Even so, Paul is telling God’s people that these are exactly the responses we should have every day for everything (good or bad).
We can make rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving a habitual lifestyle habit during times of trouble once we understand their importance and power.
“Rejoice” means that your attitude or emotions are not dependent upon outside circumstances over which you have no control, but upon your Heavenly Father who will give you the victory. Having a “God, I trust you” attitude will provoke you to give him praise in the midst of sorrow. The joy of the Lord will strengthen you.
“Prayer” is talking with our All-Wise God to acquire heavenly wisdom and instructions concerning your circumstance. Although you cannot be in your prayer closet in intimate conversation with God all day, you can keep your spiritual ear open, listening for his voice. God wants you to be wise so that your life glories him.
“Thanksgiving” means to give thanks to God with a grateful heart, knowing that He will make all things work out to your good because you love him and are called according to his purpose. When you give God thanks it makes him want to bless you even the more. I am a witness. A “Lord, I thank you” goes a long way in heaven.
Paul is saying that no matter what happens to you (good or bad) your response should be: “I do not know why this thing happened to me; but I am going to ask God for wisdom, and then I am going to thank Him in advance with joy and gladness for giving me the victory.”
It is easier to rejoice when we remember that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). It is easier to pray to God when we remember “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him” (I John 5:14-15). It is easier to thank him while we are still hurting when we remember that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
When events happen in your life (extraordinary or mundane, good or bad), what is your response?
- You immediately rejoice, pray, and give thanks.
- You are still growing in this area.
- You think this response is unattainable and do not try to respond in this way. If it is a good event, you are happy and if it is an unpleasant event, you are sad.
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