Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Always and for all times

This blog post was inspired by my reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 this morning. These three short verses have a lot of instruction for us as Christians.  They’re short but packed with power.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV):  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Rejoice always.  Paul didn’t say rejoice when you feel like it, or only when everything’s going well.  “Always” means all the time. The thesaurus in the Microsoft Word software I’m typing this with (Word 2010) lists adverbs for “always” as continuously, continually, constantly, at all times, or for all time.  It means rejoice when things aren’t going well, or when a loved one is sick or has died.  It means rejoice when you’re going through a relationship breakup, or when you’re estranged from your children or other family members.  It means rejoice when your financial situation is going south, either from job loss or other circumstances.  I know from personal experience that it’s really hard to rejoice when you’re in physical or emotional pain, but we’re told to do it, so we need to suck it up and rejoice. Rejoicing in the midst of pain takes our minds off of ourselves and our problems and turns them to God, our Father and our Comforter. For a good primer on rejoicing in the midst of pain, listen to the lyrics of the song “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns.  If you’re really down and can’t think about a single thing to rejoice about, you can always rejoice that God saved you that and Jesus died on the Cross to save you from your sins. That should be enough right there to lift your spirits.

Pray without ceasing.  Again, Paul didn’t say to pray when you feel like it, or when there’s a major crisis in your life and you need to be rescued.  “Without ceasing” means all the time, just like “always” means all the time.  A friend of mine has a keychain with a little tag on it that reads, "Pray."  That's a good reminder. You may ask, “Pray even when I’m in the bathroom?” Sure - what a perfect place to pray!  The bathroom door is shut and you have privacy – I hope. LOL!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into the bathroom stall at work, shut the door, and started praying for work situations that are going awry.  Praying without ceasing keeps the line of communication going between you and God.  Sure, God knows what you’re going to say before you say it, and He knows what you need before you ask for it, but He wants to hear it from you anyway.  This ties into the previous verse – when you rejoice when you don’t feel like it, the praise will calm your soul and then you will be calm enough to pray.    

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Give thanks when my heart is breaking because my spouse is leaving me?  Give thanks when my child is not living according to God’s will?  Give thanks when I’ve lost my job and my financial situation is dire and I don’t know how I’m going to get my next meal?  Yes, in all these and more, we are to give thanks to God.  Is your child giving you fits?  Thank the Lord that you do have a child – there are folks who would love to be parents but can’t.  Didn’t get the raise you were hoping for?  Be thankful you have a job – there are many that don’t.  Again, if you can’t think of what to give thanks for, you can always give thanks that God saved you and that Jesus died on the Cross to save you from your sins.

These instructions are from God Himself through Paul and this is what He wants us to do - He wants us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances, because it’s His will in Jesus for us.  It’s hard for me to remember these things because after all, I’m human and God made me with feelings and emotions.  That’s the fleshly side of us, which rears its ugly head when we’re faced with difficulties.  But I’m going to keep reminding myself of these instructions, and hopefully, someday I’ll remember to do these things without thinking about it. 

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading – see you next time!