1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Note that it doesn’t say “Rejoice when you are happy, pray when you need something, give thanks for the good in your life.”. But somehow, that’s how we all live. We think joy is an emotion, a feeling that comes when we get what we want. Prayers come much quicker when there’s something in it for us and our thankful heart turns cold when we think God isn’t being fair.
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reevaluate my attitude. To remember that I’m to give thanks in everything. The good and the bad. Difficulties are hard to be thankful for, but that’s God’s will for us. That a grateful heart would be present more than just when things are turning out how we’d like them to. Thanking the Lord for His blessings in my life takes the focus off what I do not have and instead reminds me of all God has given to me. Choosing to be thankful is much like deciding to rejoice. Always. Happiness and joy are not the same thing. Joy is not dependent on my circumstances. This same word “rejoice” is used almost 80 times in the Bible. Places like when the wise men saw the star proclaiming Jesus’ birth and to describe a bride’s delight at the sound of her groom. The word is a verb. Not a feeling, not an emotion. An action. I have to decide to rejoice. It is something I do, not something I feel.
And prayer. Pray without ceasing. Not just when I’m asking for something, or when I’ve tried all my own options and am turning to God for a final last-ditch option. Prayer should not be my hail mary (football term) desperation attempt at a solution. It should be an ongoing, constant conversation with the Lord.
Thank you God for all your blessings in my life, and for the hard stuff too. I know your plan for me is perfect – including the things I don’t understand. Help me to choose joy and thanksgiving regardless of circumstances.