Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Like a parent sending a child off to school – put your hat on, here’s your books, obey your teacher, come right home after school – Paul wraps up everything he’s taught the Thessalonians and delivers it to them in concise easy-to-remember sentences.
Rejoice. When? Always. Always? Yes, even when your world is shaken. Why? Because Jesus knew the world would give us trouble. “But, take heart,” He said, “I have overcome the world.” Paul learned to rejoice in his suffering: beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, poverty and rejection. He rejoiced because His sins were forgiven and His name was written in Heaven (Luke 10:20). We can rejoice in our suffering because the best thing that could happen to us has already happened – our sins are forgiven. Our enemy is defeated. Rejoice!
Pray continually. For the Christian, praying is like breathing. Pray about everything. Prayer stills the heart, fills us with courage and keeps us in the peace of Christ (John 14:27).
Give Thanks. Christians have danced around these words since the day Paul wrote them. Does He really mean, “In all circumstances?” Could it be we’re to give thanks in but not because of adverse circumstances? Can’t I give thanks for the good outcome I’m praying for instead of thanking God for the mess I’m in? That way God wouldn’t be confused about what I’m expecting from Him. Let’s stop doing the hokey-pokey and take this scripture at face value – in whatever situation you find yourself, thank Him.
This is God’s will for you: rejoice, pray, give thanks.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for complicating your will for my life. I will obey you in these three things: I will rejoice. I will pray. I will give thanks.
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books, including One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. Visit her website Writing from the Heart and read her blogs Promises of Home and here at Listening to my Hair Grow