Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
These instructions from Paul to the church in Thessalonica may feel like a bit of a stretch for some of us today. Maybe you’re at a point where you are simply trying to get through the day and the thought of rejoicing during this difficult season feels too hard. But remember, His mercies are new EVERY morning (Lamentations 3:23) so let’s shift our focus and apply these great instructions today.
When we focus on God’s goodness and not on our circumstances, our perspective begins to change. The psalmist writes, ‘This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24 CSB). Notice that he doesn’t say, ‘Yesterday was God’s day, how happy I was then,’ or, ‘Tomorrow will be God’s day, I’ll endure until then.’ No, THIS DAY is a gift from God! He never changes, He never leaves us, He never stops loving us. We can rejoice in the knowledge that we have been saved and that the best is yet to come! These are incredible things that we can always be thankful for, no matter how bad our circumstances are.
This doesn’t mean we have to pretend to be happy when we’re hurting though. God wants us to be real, and He wants to comfort us when we’re struggling. ‘Pray constantly’ means maintaining an attitude of prayer at all times - an awareness of God's presence - and staying in constant communion and close relationship with the giver of joy.
We read in Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY SITUATION, by PRAYER and PETITION, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.” He wants to be our go-to when we have a problem and something or someone is troubling us. Memorise this verse, write it on a post-it note and stick it to your fridge. He loves YOU and doesn’t want you to be anxious about anything. Trust that He has come so you can have life, and life in all its fullness (John 10:10).
When we realise we’re unconditionally loved, valued, and accepted by God, we’ll have that truth underlying everything that’s going on in our lives, good or bad. And if we can focus on that truth during the tough times, we’ll find it easier to give thanks EVERYDAY because we know that in “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Write a list of 10 things you are really thankful for today. It could be your family, your home, or even the coffee in your cup this morning! Pray over these things, give thanks and fix your eyes on Jesus!