“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 NIV
“To be thankful is a fruit of grace and is in contrast to the constant grumblings and ingratitude of a godless world.” T. Shenton
Paul presents us with something very rich here. Do you want to know the will of God for your life in Christ?
I can remember countless times in my own life where I was in pursuit of the “will of God”. I would seek Him, I would search the Scripture, I would wait and sometimes be disappointed because I didn’t feel like I still had clarity on His will. Yet, right here in the Word, we are told what the will of God is. Could it be that we look for the complicated because we reject the simplicity of this life transforming Word? Are we looking for something profound, when He is giving us keys that will unlock the doors to so many areas of our lives?
You see, my circumstances do not determine what is true. Truth will always be Truth regardless of what is unfolding in my life. Could Paul be offering me something to help me remain in Truth even when my natural circumstances scream at me a contradiction? I believe he is.
What I see here is that we are being called to this journey of trust. Our circumstances can be the quickest thing to reveal what is really happening in the heart, regardless of how well I am presenting myself externally. I can boldly declare that I trust God, but when my life is being shaken, am I shaken? Or can I believe Him and stay in peace?
If I truly trust Him, then I can give thanks in everything. I have heard a lot of debate on this topic. Many think it is ridiculous to believe that one could really give thanks in all things. However, if I believe that all things really do work together for good, can I really offer anything but thanks? If I believe that Word, then my present “challenge” only becomes a part of the good being worked out. I believe our lack of trust becomes exposed when our circumstances shake us. I can easily thank him for the roses, but what about the thorns?
Trusting gives us the ability to do the will of God. You and I can be joyful always, when we trust. If I look at my circumstances, I lose my joy. But I cannot be without joy and look upon the face of Jesus. It is all about my gaze. Joy was a mark of the early church, while enduring persecution. This tells me that my joy is not determined by my circumstances. They were God focused and could be joyful in all things because of Who they were looking at, not what they were looking at.
We are also told to pray continually. This is a call to cultivate a spirit of constant devotion so that our lives will overflow with the presence of God through our communion and union with Him. This life will be filled with gratitude.
For the believer there is no circumstance in which we cannot give thanks. Even the worst day, the worst news, we are more than conquerors in Christ. It is easy to complain, to murmur, but it takes true strength to be a man or woman who chooses to live the will of God by living a life of gratitude.
The will of God is not difficult….give thanks.
Today, I am grateful for Paul’s challenge. It reminds me that the grateful life will be a happy life. It will be a life lived in the will of God. A life that trust in all things, and can say, “it is well.” I am thankful for the people in my life who do their best to live this Word and trust God even in moments of great pain. Their lives have left an impact on mine.