Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks

“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].” (1 Thes 5:16-18, AMP)

 

It amazes me that many Christians today (including me) find it so hard to thank God in the middle of everything instead of griping and complaining. It seems as though people are dwelling on the negative parts of their current situation instead of looking at what God has done for them to get them this far, and looking to the future to see God’s providence in their lives.

I have included this scripture in various translations below, including my own rendering of it.

ESV – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

KJV – “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

MSG – “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

NAS – “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

NIV – “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

NLT – “Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

My translation – “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. In everything, individually and collectively, give thanks; for this is the purpose that God wishes to be performed by us in Christ Jesus.”

No matter which translation you use, the point is still the same – Always give thanks to God, no matter what the circumstances. I preached a sermon once where I stated that “Rather than sit on the premises of your circumstances, you should stand on the promises of God.”

I have Multiple Sclerosis. I have a choice to make:

  1. I can dwell on what this disease has done to my body. I can think of all the things I used to be able to do, but can’t anymore. I can say things like, “Why did God give me this disease?” or “Why did God let this disease affect me? Why won’t He heal me?”
  2. I can look back and retrace my steps since I got this disease. MS has led me to some places I never thought I’d live, and therefore, I’ve met people I would have never met. I was able to minister to some of those people, and be ministered to by some of those people.

God is so good. He took what was meant for bad (MS) and turned it into multiple blessings!

We have to get out of the mindset that everything that happens is to be evaluated on its own merits. Everything is part of the big picture, and must be evaluated together.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28, NRSV)

In the book of Job, we see that God has allowed Satan to inflict Job with multiple injustices in order to test his faith. Just after that, some of Job’s servants brought him news that his livestock had either been killed or stolen, the farmhands slaughtered, and all of his children were killed. Job’s reaction:

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:21-22, ESV)

Job came under heavy attack from both the enemy, and his “friends”.  Through it all, he did not blame God.

This song is called “Broken Praise”.  It is all about the life of Job.  The last stanza is very powerful, and embodies all of what I’ve been trying to say:

But You were the One who filled my cup
And You were the One who let it spill.
So blessed be your Holy name if you never fill it up again.
If this is where my story ends, just give me one more breath to say Hallelujah

 

No matter what happens in our lives, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and have faith that He knows better than we do how it all turns out.

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