1 Thessalonians 5 :16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (New International Version – NIV)
If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. Remember that this nation is Your people. (NIV)
Give thanks in all circumstances? All … ? The first time I heard these words I did not receive them well. I was on the road to a dream when I hit a bump and everything changed. I sought wise counsel from a servant of the Lord and that opened the door for my introduction to 1 Thessalonians 5. All circumstances? “But how?”, I asked into the silence. How can anyone be always joyful or pray continually let alone give thanks in all circumstances ? Logically, it seems easier for joy and thanksgiving and prayer to flow like a river when life is good and all the plans are working like clockwork.
That experience was years ago yet I still have to remind myself that I choose how to respond. I may not be able to control the actions of others but I can certainly control how I respond. Over the years I’ve seen God come through and brought change to circumstances I thought would have been the undoing of me. Over the years I’ve also seen God move in a different direction from the one I expected and hoped and prayed for. Was I disappointed when He didn’t follow my plans? You bet!! Even though I had said “Your will, O Lord”, it seems I secretly hoped His will would line up with what I wanted. How we react to His direction makes the difference. Things don’t always turn out the way they’re supposed to. Plans don’t always become a reality but the word of the Lord remains. … always be joyful, always pray, always be thankful.
I’m on the road to discovering the faithfulness of our God and the confidence we gain from trusting Him. I say “on the road” because our walk with the Lord is constant and ongoing. Each day is a new experience. We are all going through a process of growth and development in Him. My first response to unwelcome changes is not always the ‘textbook response’. I have to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to remind me how I should choose. We can purpose in our hearts to be joyful. We can opt for a life of prayer. We can adopt a lifestyle of thanksgiving…or we can choose not to. The word of our Lord will remain. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” !!
Father, I continue to marvel at your goodness. When I look back over my life I can see how You orchestrated experiences to work things out for my good even though I didn’t always receive Your guidance with thanksgiving. I confess that I have gone my own route many a time even though I knew that was not Your plan for me. I thank You for waiting for me nonetheless and I ask for Your forgiveness for disobeying You. Lord, even now there are decisions I need to make and in my heart I already know what I want. I surrender my will to You and ask You to lead me in the direction You want me to take. I thank You for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for those You have placed in my life to help guide me to Your will. Teach me how to be joyful always, how to pray continually and how to give thanks in all circumstances even when life doesn’t go the way I planned it. If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. Remember that (I am Yours).