“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thess 5:16-18
These words from Paul are meant to motivate us as Christians. He wants us to remember that these three things are the will of God in Christ Jesus for us: to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances.
Many people struggle with this exhortation when the circumstances they are facing are difficult. We tend to take the words “rejoice always” and place our own meaning on them. We find ourselves asking, “How can I rejoice when I am going through this?” It’s easy to rejoice when things are going well, but understanding how to do the same when things are difficult is something else entirely. We must remember the very important preposition – IN. We are not called to rejoice FOR the circumstances, but we are called to rejoice IN them because we know we have a God who loves us, who is walking with us through it, and who has suffered for us. We can rest in the promise of 1 Kings 8:57, “The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us.”
In the midst of our circumstances, both good and bad, we can give thanks. We give thanks in them not for them. Again, we can do this with the hope and assurance of God being right in the middle of them. When we are weak, He is strong. When the burden is heavy, He is there to carry it. When there is a joyful circumstance, He is there to rejoice with us.
Paul knew we would struggle with this, so he gave us instructions: Pray without ceasing. Pray consistently. Stay in the Word. We have to keep our relationship with the Lord strong and spend time in prayer and in His Word daily so our dependence, our rejoicing, and our thanksgiving will come naturally…always.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalm 104