Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
There are Bible verses that are easier to memorize than to practice. From our text, if we could only remove a word or two, God’s command would seem to be doable. If we are commanded to “be joyful” that seemed to be something that we could do especially when things are working well in our life. But the command says, “Always be joyful.” This means that Christian joy is not dependent whether our circumstances are easy or difficult. In fact, several times we are told to be joyful even when we are suffering. The apostle Paul at the beginning of this letter to the Christians in Thessalonica mentioned that joy and suffering can be both parts of our Christian experience. “So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The next command is to pray continually. This is not a command on having a non-stop prayer session. What the command is telling us is to have a constant awareness that wherever we are, we can always experience the presence of God. Such awareness will create in our hearts a humility that desires to always talk to God about everything that we are facing in life. The same thing with giving thanks, it is possible to do this when we are not confronted with difficult situations in life. But the command is to “be thankful in all circumstances.” When we are going through a difficult circumstance, we feel that expressing gratitude seems inappropriate. But when we are aware that the Holy Spirit who is the Comforter is in us, He will be the One who will help us express thankfulness in every situation. The Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the believer is the One who will help them appreciate the greatness of God’s grace made available in every situation. If you are wondering what is God’s will, Paul stated them emphatically. It is God’s will that we are to be always joyful, praying continually, and thankful in all circumstances. If you claim you belong in Christ, this is the choice He wants you to make. It is a deliberate response to His grace and faithfulness that will only be possible if you will focus on Him and not on your circumstances. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Noel De Guzman
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