The apostle Paul wrote to the new church in Thessalonica urging them to remain steadfast in the faith despite facing challenges and persecution in their lives. He gives specific instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 commanding them (and us) to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances”. This seems almost impossible in our human nature to obey completely. Can we really testify that there was not a single moment in our discipleship journey that we have not fallen short?
God commands us to rejoice always.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). “Rejoice always” does not mean that we should always be joyful, and never feel sad, disheartened, or depressed even when we are facing trials and tribulations. But as Christians, we can take comfort from James 1:2-3 “to count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness”. Thus, the key to dispel these negative feelings is by faith to surrender them to God and in return, we can experience real joy in Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17) Praying without ceasing does not mean that we are to go on our knees every minute of the day. What it really means is that we should pray persistently and not lose heart. The parable of the persistent widow who kept returning to the judge to seek justice until the latter heard her out is a good example (Luke 18:1-8).
God commands us to give thanks in all circumstances.
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Ephesians 5:20)
We should acknowledge that God is sovereign and is in control of our circumstances. We can confidently claim on God’s promise in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. Therefore, we can give thanks in all circumstances (good or bad) to our Heavenly Father who loves us. We are His children, and He will walk alongside us in our journey for He is the author and perfector of our faith.
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
We are called to be in Christ Jesus in order to discern the will of God for us. As we remain steadfast in Him, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will transform us to discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). Though we may sometimes falter, God’s grace will be sufficient for us for His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Whether life gives lemons or roses, we will always keep our focus on Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
“Heavenly Father, may I grow in grace and in an attitude of thanksgiving for all that you have done for me, in Christ Jesus. Lord, I desire that Your will be done in my life – and as it is Your will that I should give thanks in all things, I pray that You would develop and refine this exquisite grace of thanksgiving in me. This I ask in Jesus’s name, AMEN”.
By brother Vincent Lim