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. (NIV 1984)
In the middle of a forest, there was a hunter who was suddenly confronted by a huge, mean bear. In his fear, all attempts to shoot the bear were unsuccessful. Finally, he turned and ran as fast as he could. He ran, and ran and ran, until he ended up at the edge of a very steep cliff.
His hopes were dim. Seeing no way out of his predicament, and with the bear closing in rather quickly, the hunter got down on his knees, opened his arms, and exclaimed, “Dear God! Please give this bear some religion!”
The sky darkened and there was lightning in the air. Just a few feet short of the hunter, the bear came to an abrupt stop, and glanced around, somewhat confused. Suddenly, the bear looked up into the sky and said, “Thank you God, for the food I’m about to receive…”
My Musing – We laugh, because it is just a funny story. But we often find ourselves in situations where the last thing on our mind is being joyful, praying or giving thanks, much less always, continually and in all circumstances. When something really good happens, we might find that these things are easy. But, when things are merely going okay, we might find ourselves taking His goodness for granted. When things are going not so good, these might be the last thing on our minds, perhaps thinking that He may not be so good after all.
The verse above challenges us to be “joyful always,” in good, bad or in between times. While happiness may be dependent upon circumstances, joy need not be. We also need to “pray continually.” This might be just as important in the good or in between times as it is in the bad times, when we usually “amp up” our prayer life because of our distress. Finally, we are to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Note the thanks are in all circumstances, not for. We can give thanks in the bad times, not for the bad things, but because we know that He is always with us and that it will be used to work out for the good (Romans 8:28).