1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil.
Thought for the Day: Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks.
Sometimes it is good to listen intently on a good sermon that talks about how we should be with other people and honestly how we should be with ourselves. Yesterday, although I will not get it right, was one of those sermons. Throughout my life I have lived an amazing amount of tragedy and grief. If I looked back at every part, I would be so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t function. I thank God for giving me enough space between the times of grief that I could find joy and peace. I thank God that in between the times of sorrow, I had times of pure elation. I thank God that through my times of sorrow, people were placed in front of me who would get me through the next period of my life. But I look at friends around me who just can’t seem happy and can’t get past events that placed them in low places. I feel for them as it seems that they feel that everyone is against them instead of looking at those around them as answers to prayers.
Yesterday’s sermon was based on Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Hurricanes, floods, and fires have seemed to sweep across the world recently. There is not a day that goes by that some tragedy isn’t shared in the news. Most recently, we have read and viewed stories about the devastation of fires in California. Before that, there was the hurricane that swept across Florida. And Paul is saying, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, and ‘GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES”? “Really!” I have always struggled with this but as Pastor Jeremy Lawson preached yesterday, he brought out that tiny preposition in the midst of these words. The word was “in”, that tiny word, “in”. That word in changes what we think we are hearing to a more doable instruction from Paul. “Rejoice always”. In my life, I have been able to see the little things around me that help me rejoice…those times after a tragedy when it was obvious that God was standing right beside me – standing in a visitation line and feeling God giving me the names and memories of those who came to give their respects. I rejoice that God was right beside me. “Pray constantly”. In my life, I have prayed a lot. I learned from an early age that praying in all circumstances is what gets me through. Now, if you ask me if I always remember to pray when things are going on around me, I would honestly have to say “no”. If you ask me if I feel more at ease when I do remember to pray, that would be a definite “yes”. But “Give thanks in all circumstances”! That is a tough one. When my sweet husband was hurt by a group of people in a most hurtful way, how could I give thanks? It took years and there is still a bit of hurt when we look back. How can you give thanks when so much hurt comes? There it is…that tiny word “in”. That word is not “for”, it is “in”. Paul is not asking us to give thanks “for” circumstances. He is asking us to give thanks “in” all circumstances. That one is actually easy. I can be thankful for people who came into my life during the tragic times in my life. I can be thankful for the words of scripture and devotions that I have read. I can be thankful that because of so much pain, I began to write. I can be thankful that because of an unexpected move, I began to take pictures. I am thankful for all these things and that my family is in “God’s place” because of His plan for us after the pain. So, yes, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances” – thanks Paul. Those are great instructions for us, even…especially in the times we live in.
Prayer: Our precious heavenly Father! What a great day it is when we hear a sermon that gets our minds thinking and our hearts moving. Thank you that through a sermon, words we think are there in front of us are actually changed to what is actually there. Help us follow Paul’s instructions to “Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances”. Amen.