“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Seems like an easy task right? Rejoice, pray, give thanks. Got it! In our sin-infected world, the task laid out before us is hard enough, but adding a hard providence on top of it makes it seem impossible. How can I rejoice when the person I love broke up with me? How can I pray while I’m being abused by a parent? How can I give thanks when I have a pile of medical bills I’m unable to pay?
God can give us many hard providences throughout our lives. Maybe you’re reading this and you are well acquainted with difficult seasons. You have lived through the hard times and survived to rejoice in the good times. But how do you rejoice in the bad times as well?
This is a skill we, by the grace of God, can master over our years of being a Christian. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘well seasoned’ Christian by any means, but I can safely say it does get easier to give thanks during trials the longer I walk with God.
So, how do we do it? How do we rejoice and pray and give thanks when the world around us is falling apart?
We look to the Bible, and we see what God has to say about suffering. In 1 Peter 4, Peter tells us that we are to rejoice “insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings” (v. 13) and that if we are suffering for the name of Christ, “you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (v.14). Suffering is supposed to stir up in us the desire to rejoice because suffering is when we often see the goodness of God in the most vibrant way. We aren’t supposed to constantly be searching for a way out of suffering, we are supposed to change how we view suffering.
The 18th-century minister and author Matthew Henry had this to say when dissecting 1 Peter 4:15:
“We have reason to thank God for the honor if he calls us out to suffer for his truth and gospel, for our adherence to any of the doctrines or duties of Christianity.”
Henry says it’s an honor if God calls us to suffer! We need to change our mindset so that when we entered a hard providence, we can see it as an honor and patiently suffer through it. We need to thank God for our suffering, and through thanking God, we will find our hearts changing. We find it easier to pray and rejoice. It slowly builds to an unquenchable desire to praise God, to give thanks without ceasing because our mindset around suffering has changed.
Dear Christian, I know this is hard. You might find yourself wondering how you could ever do this, how could you ever praise God as you walk through the trial He has set before? I challenge you to pray to Him, ask him to change your mindset around suffering. Once you do, you may slowly find yourself praising God more, rejoicing in Him more, and running after Him harder than ever before, all while experiencing the trial He has set before you.