“…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18b
Really, is that it? Is that all I have to do to be in God’s will? Sound too easy – be joyful, pray and give thanks?
Here’s the hard part: be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. That sounds impossible!
What does it mean to have joy?
Joy is our excitement in expectation of good. It is also our enjoyment of the good we already have. It is not the same as simply being happy. Joy is an emotion but it is an emotion provoked by knowing, not feeling. We know that as followers of Jesus, we have received the Holy Spirit. Christ is in us. We have received the Eternal Life. It is with us always. We also know that we have been sealed with Holy Spirit guaranteeing our inheritance, salvation through Christ. Regardless of the battles and turmoil we face every day, we can have joy always.
How can we pray continually?
So often we think of prayer as carving out time to sit and be still. We lay out all of our prayers at one time. We get all worked up when we miss one and can be really hard on ourselves. But God knows our hearts and our thoughts at all times. It is necessary to spend intentional time with Him, talking to and listening to God; but, as we go through our day we can continue to lift up each situation, conversation, relationship, and burden to Him and lay it at His feet. Sometimes, the simple prayers are the best because it means He is at the forefront of our minds at all times. We don’t just give Him the big things, the things we think we can’t handle or control; we give Him the small, simple things that we tend to think we can handle and control without His help. When we are in constant communication with God, we will be better able to recognize His will.
Why should we give thanks or even be thankful in all circumstances?
Life is hard. We don’t want to deal with or face some of the situations and problems we do each day. Why should we be thankful when it doesn’t appear God has helped us, when He hasn’t taken our problem away? Isn’t that how we know God is with us? He answers our prayers the way we want Him to? We are to be thankful because He has made it possible to be joyful always and has given us the ability to be in prayer, communication with Him continually. We know that no matter what our situation, no one and nothing can take away what He has guaranteed. While all circumstances are not good, we know that He works all circumstances out for His good so that He can be gloried bringing others to know Him and have the same guarantee we do. We are an active participant in the kingdom of God. And that makes our joy complete!
Something to Consider…
Do you lack joy? Jesus is joy. Remind yourself daily of what Jesus has done for you and what that means going forward. His kingdom is here for you now. Enjoy what you have already received.
Do you feel like you have no time to pray or don’t know how? He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. Talk to your friend, Jesus, about anything and everything on your mind.
Do you wonder how you can possibly be thankful in the middle of your mess? We are not our circumstances but we do have the opportunity to show others the love of Christ in the midst of our circumstances. How will you show Christ’s love to others facing difficult circumstances?