Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
The Bible challenges and commands for us to live prayerful lives, rejoicing and giving thanks to God always, in all circumstances. Gratitude is not optional, and should truly be a daily discipline and posture, as well as the desire of our hearts. It is striking to me that the command/directive of I Thessalonians 5:16-18 gives us an active imperative, an action that is continuously taking place… Rejoice ALWAYS, pray CONTINUALLY, give thanks ALWAYS. This is God’s will for us, and should be the focus of our heart, mind, and attitude always.
As we find ourselves in a world and time where corona-virus has much of the world in lock-down, when plagues are impacting many areas, natural disasters are occurring all over the globe, and evil is rampant as well, there are many things that cause great fear and anxiety, confusion and pain, tension and discord. Some individuals have resorted to withdrawal, blame, frustration, and complaints. Our natural tendency, and sinful nature, can often cause us to become discouraged, and focused upon, the negative in life. This action in and of itself can cause damage to our health, and leads us on a path away from living in gratitude and joy.
When I was approximately seven years old, an old wise man shared with me one of the most influential and freedom-giving truths of my life. He told me, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and it’s 90 percent how you respond.” There is about 10% of life that you have no control over… where you are born, color of your eyes, hair, or skin, who your family relations are, what tragedies, traumas, and natural disasters befall you and those around you, etc… but your response is the majority of your life existence. I have watched people ruin their lives just with how they have chosen to respond to hard life situations and circumstances. Full of blame and bitterness, they have allowed for the world to fall in on them and all around them.
Having myself come from some quite difficult life circumstances in my childhood and teenage years, I too could have chosen to respond with a victim mentality, choosing to be bitter and blaming others for all my faults and failures. However, those words of an old wise man have brought me, from a very young age, into accountability for my response to anything and everything I have encountered in life. I have responsibility for how I respond and react, and no one else is at fault for my response. There is about 90% of my life that is my response and responsibility!
With the Bible as my main guide, partnered with God’s Holy Spirit, I remember the first time I read I Thessalonians 5:16-18. I was still a young boy, living in immense abuse, but God opened my eyes to the beauty and blessings of life that He has created all around me every day, and instilled in me a heart of gratitude and praise, as well as a spirit of prayer and intercession. I learned, very young, to always be thankful, prayerful, and full of the joy of the Lord.
As our world has seemed to come to a pause of activity and flourishing plans and purposes, with this corona-virus pandemic all around us, God’s desire for us to be grateful and prayerful has not wavered. I want to encourage us to become people of gratitude, joy, and prayerful intercession. There is so much for which we can be thankful, and so much that needs our intercession and prayer. Thank God today for loved ones, for your eyes, your ears, your mouth, taste buds, nose, sense of touch, and the many true blessings that you have, even in hard times. Pray hard for those most affected by the pandemic, the tragedies, the traumas, injustice, and the sin that is prevalent in the world today. Let us give thanks to God for the blessings of today, as they are many, rejoice in the gift of life, and pray, intercede, and rejoice with God our Father constantly. I am giving thanks… always! How about you?!?