Writing to the church in Thessalonica, Paul instructs them to express gratitude at all times.
He writes, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The mark of a Christian who strives for a vibrant relationship with God is joy, prayer, and gratitude. [Tweet this] These are not one-time offerings but perpetual and ongoing expressions—for every situation, in all circumstances—rooted in the will of God and given as gifts by God.
Paul never suggests that believers deny the grief or pain that adversity brings but rather that they recognize, even in the midst of hardship, God’s spirit infusing them with joy.
Such mirth can’t be self-produced; it is a gift of God and evidence of the Spirit. This unexplainable joy is one of the hallmarks of those who follow Christ, setting them apart from many religions, both ancient and modern.
Paul’s second instruction is to pray continually. Prayer isn’t limited to a particular time of day or formality but is designed to be accessible and constant. Calling on God is designed for both grave and grandiose occasions—an expression meant to become as natural as breathing. [Tweet this] Prayer expresses our ongoing dependence on God. When woven with happy wonderment, prayer becomes an opportunity to rejoice through adoration and worship.
The Apostle’s final exhortation is to give thanks in all circumstances. Scripture doesn’t explicitly say who is to be given thanks, but it’s understood as being given to God. Unlike the previous exhortations to practice “always” and “without ceasing,” Paul assigns gratitude in “every circumstance,” even those that seem undeserving of thanks.
In other words, the focus isn’t on expressing gratitude every moment but in the midst of every situation— despite the ease or difficulty of the circumstances.*
This Thanksgiving, will you join me in giving thanks in the midst of whatever adversity you’re facing?
Even in this, we can rejoice, pray, and LIVEWONDERSTRUCK by our great God.
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for YOU today.
Still fighting with joy,
Margaret, Leif, and Hershey
What are you grateful for today?