Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
Really, Paul? Give thanks in everything? No matter the circumstance?
Already, you’ve rocked my world. You’ve told me to rejoice always – not just when life is going well. That means that even though I’m tempted to rejoice only in the good times, you want me to rejoice in the bad times too.
You’ve told me to pray constantly – not just when life is going badly. Here, you’ve dealt with the opposite temptation. Even though I’m tempted to pray only in the bad times (when I sense I need something), you want me to pray constantly – in the good times too.
Paul, you’re calling me to a way of life that doesn’t depend on my circumstances. And what bugs me about this call is that you aren’t some idealistic pastor asking me to do the impossible. You are doing this yourself. You’re writing from a prison cell. Your happiest, sunniest letter (Philippians) is written when your circumstances are terrible.
And now, you’re telling us to give thanks in everything. But how? I want to be thankful, but come on… even for bad things? Even for trials?