Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The verses above are the kind Tom Sawyer might memorize for Sunday School credit. They are short, easy to remember and hey, that’s three Bible verses for credit! But beyond the brevity of the verse length runs a depth many believers are uncomfortable to dive into for long.
Rejoice always. Really? So I am supposed to be happy when bad things come my way? That sounds just wrong. What it means is “have joy always” which is different than happiness which can be fleeting. Joy is from a deeper root, tapped into the abundant waters of the Holy Spirit. It’s coupled with hope.
Without ceasing. . This one used to really scare me as a new believer. How was I supposed to go about my day if I was always praying? It’s simple. It’s an attitude of prayer. Keeping a reflective mind, focused on God’s plan, not man’s plan. That’s how to pray without ceasing.
I’ve been in this state of prayer for a while now. Dear ones have been very sick, in the hospital, and it’s been hard since I’m not able to visit them during this time. But I can pray. Prayer doesn’t need time off from work, gas money, or to arrange household activities while it’s absent. Prayer just goes. It covers, it comforts, it heals, it moves.
Give thanks in all circumstances.. This one is similar to the “rejoice always” verse. It doesn’t mean to be thankful you’ve lost a loved one, or a job. It means to recognize God has all things under His authority and control. That is enough for me to say thank you to Him all the time.
So, thank you God for a deeper joy,
The ability to be mindful in prayer–even as I go about my day,
And thank you for being the God who is in control, so I don’t have to be.
Amen. But without ceasing.