“Be joyful always; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Say what? Joyful always? Thankful in all circumstances” This is God’s will for those who are in Christ Jesus? Really? Yes, but be careful that you are not reading into it what it does not say.
It doesn’t say be happy always – Happiness is more often than not dependent upon circumstances. And there will be things that happen in our lives that we will not be happy about. Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent upon circumstances. It can be maintained even when negative things occur in our lives.
It doesn’t say give thanks for all circumstances – Suffering, loss and pain are among the things that we would rarely, if ever, be thankful for. But we can still be thankful despite (in) all of these things.
My Advice – How can be be joyful always? How can we able to give thanks in all circumstances? Well, first of all, it is impossible without a personal relationship with Christ. For it is the Holy Spirit living within the believer that makes it possible. Yet, even believers struggle with this from time-to-time, some more than others, those new to the faith more than those who are seasoned veterans in the faith.
The astute reader will have noticed that I omitted a phrase from the above verse. A very important phrase. In a sense, a conditional phrase. For without it it is hard, perhaps even impossible to achieve these lofty goals. The phrase? “Pray continually.” This is not about dry recitations, or confused babbling. It is an attitude. A state of mind. A constant and close communion with our Savior, that sometimes doesn’t even need words. An ever deepening relationship, that satisfies beyond measure and is not diminished by the difficulties that life throws at us.
The thing to remember is that this is a journey, more than it is a destination. Growing closer and closer to our God, until one day He calls us home. Then, joy and thankfulness will be complete.