“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What is God’s will for your life? It can be difficult to discern in certain seasons. Decisions feel weightier, the future unclear, emotions tangled, circumstances impossible, relationships at risk. While we can struggle to lift our heads and hearts out of the mire, Jesus never struggles to understand or see the big picture. His answer to us: trust Him and praise. During the month of thanksgiving, it feels only appropriate to practice God’s will for us through praising Him. 1 Thessalonians provides us with a road map to practice.
1. Rejoice always.
In the presence of joy, uncertainty, insecurity, and negativity flee. Joy allows us to greet our circumstances as conquerors. Scripture has much to say about joy and rejoicing.
When the hard moments come, we count it joy, which leads to endurance and ultimately hope! “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3
Joy is something we receive from the Holy Spirit. When we struggle to rejoice, we can ask God to fill us with joy. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
The Lord knew hard times would come, but joy is always possible. “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
2. Pray without ceasing.
Another way to say this is to “continually worship.” When our circumstances are tough, our God is bigger and stronger. Before seeking the counsel of others, seek the Lord first. Tell Him the road feels difficult. Seek His wisdom and help. Know that your loving Father understands, listens, and responds in His way and in His timing.
3. Give thanks in every circumstance.
In his book, Chase the Lion, Mark Batterson says, “Gratitude is thanking God after He does it. Faith is thanking God before He does it.” Your circumstances may feel difficult, but thank God for what He is orchestrating behind the scenes. He is in the business of working all things for good (Romans 8:28). We don’t just want to be a people of gratitude. We want to be marked by faith in a big God. Our faith grows the more we practicing giving thanks.
The more we fix our gaze on Jesus in the middle of our circumstances, the more we will operate as joyful people, giving thanks to God in everything. 1 Thessalonians gives us three commands and three opportunities to be obedient. When we follow these commands, our relationship with Jesus grows deeper, our circumstances feel lighter, and heart is filled with joy.