I was reading the words penned by Paul this morning in the book of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Paul was encouraging the believers and reminding them on how to prepare for the second coming. At the end of the chapter in verses 16-18 Paul admonishes them to be joyful always; to pray without ceasing and the be thankful in all circumstances. I’ll touch on the first two of that mandate but I really want to focus on the last part which is being thankful in ALL circumstances.
REJOICE ALWAYS! – I truly believe that joy comes from keeping all things in life in proper order. A short acronym for this is J-esus, O-thers, Y-ou. Joy is a fruit of the spirit that flows from an abiding relationship with Jesus. Joy is seeking Jesus first and foremost and then in turn following and obeying God by loving others. Joy is not dependent on circumstances, but rather in keeping a continual focus on God which helps us keep a proper perspective in all circumstances. Joy should be a natural outflow of the spirit filled believer based on what God has done for us. Philippians 4:4 tells us “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
PRAY CONTINUALLY! – God’s ultimate goals for us is that we live in surrendered obedience to Him. Our prayer life is a direct reflection of our inward heart attitude. In Acts 17:28 it says that “In Him we live and move and have our being.” In essence our lives would then become a spiritual act of worship to God. Prayer should be a natural outflow of a person abiding in the love of Christ. We need to follow Jesus’ example and to pray in all circumstances and without ceasing. In James 4:2-3 it says, “you don’t have because you don’t ask and it says that when you do ask you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives.” When we learn to pray correctly which is God’s word over circumstances, this IS the will of God. Knowing God’s Words is understanding the heart of God and James 5:16 tells us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
GIVE THANKS! – Verse five says, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Many would say, well that is a good goal to aspire to, but really, to give thanks in ALL circumstances? It’s easy to thank God when life circumstances are going in our favor but it’s a little different to thank him when we face hardships and difficulties. I truly, believe that when we give thanks especially in the most difficult of circumstances, that there is a blessing that flows from this act of obedience and it is the “Peace of God” that exceeds any circumstance (Philippians 4:7).
Gratitude is an attitude we choose based on proper perspective. We can either choose to focus on the problem or we can choose to focus on the One who holds the solution, our creator. I believe when we continually choose to focus on our lack in any area of our lives, we get stuck in a cycle of self-preservation versus living the abundant life that God promises to us as believers. An abundance doesn’t mean we have all “we” think we need, but rather God freely gives us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of himself and through the promises of His Word (2 Peter 1:3).
If it were not for difficulties, trials and sufferings in our lives we wouldn’t understand our need for Christ, the one who offers us hope. Romans 5:3-5 put it this way, ” We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
I believe rejoicing in sufferings means cultivating an attitude of gratitude amidst our trials and suffering because we know that God (who is the source of all good), is working all things for our good (Philippians 1:6). In Him we have forgiveness of sin (past, present and future) and a hope for an eternity with Him forever, where there will be no more tears, death, mourning or pain (Revelation 21:4). Because of these great and wonderful promises we offer thanksgiving because of who Jesus is, our loving Father, our precious Lord, Redeemer, Savior and Friend. We praise Him because of what he did for us on the cross and offer up a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving because there is . . . no greater love than this (John 15:3)!
Father God, thank you for your amazing love for us. Thank you for sending Jesus to pay the price for our sin so that we didn’t have to. Thank you for the relationship we can have with you because of what Jesus did for us. Help us to cultivate that relationship with a continual attitude of gratitude in all things, even the most difficult things. Help us to fix our eyes on you and empower us through your Holy Spirit to do all that you have called us to do. We give you praise and thanks our precious Lord and Friend! To you be the Glory both now and forever! AMEN