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
Rejoice always. Sometimes this seems impossible. It seems impossible during a pandemic. It seems countercultural with the civil unrest today. Even when I am trying to learn about these things it can be easy to get caught up in the emotions of fear, confusion, anger, frustration and just being overwhelmed with too much information. It is hard to rejoice when I see my husband struggling with his health, knowing I can’t do anything to help. It can be disheartening to see friends and family deal with the virus and all the stress that has come because of it. Also, as I work on learning all things adoption, because I think by doing so I can understand my daughter more, it can bring some guilt of how my relinquishment has hurt her in any way. Even though I have worked through so much of the shame and guilt I have felt as a birthmother, there are days I fall into regret and self pity. How do I stay in a rejoicing attitude with all the struggles and pain in life and in the world around me?
The answer is in the next part of the sentence in verse 17, “Pray without ceasing.” We aren’t just to pray for all our problems and needs, but also at the same time we need to “in everything, give thanks.” Giving thanks in all circumstances sure sounds contradictory to what the world tells us. The world tells us to stay the victim, make your voice louder than any others. We live in a world where we think we need to criticize anyone who disagrees with us. We are a people of anger and selfishness. Stomp your feet and throw a fit, not unlike a 2 year old. We are angry if we have to wear a mask or angry that someone else either chooses to or chooses not to. We are angry if the traffic light takes too long to turn green, for heaven’s sake. Do we need to stand up for injustices? Of course, we do! This takes a change of our own thinking first. We need to consider others more important than ourselves, which is definitely not a popular way of thinking. We need to ask God to give us opportunities to show His love through us and then follow Him in obedience.
This worldly “wisdom” has not changed since the the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve decided they knew as much as God. They put themselves above God. They thought they could make their lives better. How could life be better than living in a garden paradise walking with God? If they had gone to the Father when the serpent tempted them to disobey the Lord God, they might have realized the deception before it was too late. In Luke we read when Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was tempted in the wilderness. He knew the truth in God’s word and recognized when Satan was quoting Scripture that he was distorting the meaning in an effort to deceive Him. How many times do we allow our hearts to be deceived instead of looking for truth? Truth in His word taught to us by the Holy Spirit, instead of what is being shouted to us by culture or what we think is true according to our own selfish desires.
In Philippians Paul says that his circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. What if we surrendered our circumstances for furthering the gospel? The apostle Paul suffered prison, beatings, stoning, and rejection and considered suffering for Christ to be a privilege. For us to suffer for the sake of Christ, it would mean exchanging pride with humbleness, criticism with thankfulness, our rights and freedom with sacrifice. We can trade all the negative emotions into emotions that line up with God’s truth. Stand firm in our salvation to not only believing in Jesus but also willing to suffer for His sake.
We cannot do this in our own power, but we can choose joy and then follow the Spirit’s leading as we read and study His word, asking Him to open our eyes to His truths and to change our hearts. It takes an attitude of “prayer without ceasing.” We need to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” as we read in verse 21 and 22. This chapter is so full of practical and deep truths and promises.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus christ.
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24
So today I will lean on His promises to do the work in my life as I choose to rejoice, pray and give thanks in each circumstance in my life. I’m trusting in His faithfulness even when I when I fall short. I’m praying for my life to bring Him glory today.
KP July 2020