Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
What is God’s will for your life? That is a big question that each of us needs to answer. And there are many answers that you might find to that question. But this passage gives us at least a partial answer. The three actions that Paul mentions here are applicable to all believers, regardless the circumstances they find themselves in.
We would generally expect rejoicing to be something we do only when something good has happened. We equate it with happiness that is based on circumstances. But Paul doesn’t say rejoice in the good times. He says to rejoice always. To know and experience the joy of God that is available to us regardless the circumstances.
Most of us do good to pray for more than a few minutes a day. Praying continually seems to be an impossible goal. Yet that is what Paul instructs us to do. But he is not referring just to those times when you have bowed your head and closed your eyes in prayer. Rather his instruction to us is to be constantly in contact with God. No matter where you go, what you do or say, or what is going on around you, keep open the lines of communication with God.
Give Thanks In All Circumstances
And, finally, Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. Notice that he is not telling us to give thanks for all circumstances. I do not have to be thankful that I am sick or out of work. But I can have a spirit of thankfulness even in those times. I can be thankful that God is in control and caring for me. My thankfulness is to him, not for my circumstances.
You have likely been impacted by COVID-19 in recent weeks. How should we respond to it? For sure we should follow all of the medical advice we are given. But we should also rejoice, pray and give thanks. That is God’s will for us in these circumstances.