It’s been over 6 months since shelter in place began and now on top of a global pandemic we have fires threatening much of our state and unhealthy air quality forcing us indoors.
The reality is that many of us are struggling. Even as believers the uncertainty we’re living through can take a toll. And yet, even now God is still in control. Nothing is new to Him and nothing has caught Him by surprise.
We might know that in our minds and our hearts but how are we to live well during this time?
As always I believe we can find answers in God’s Word. Recently I was reading through 1 Thessalonians where Paul was writing to the church at Thessalonica and he wanted to encourage the believers as they faced trials and persecution. Paul says,
“Because of this, encourage the hearts of your fellow believers and support one another, just as you have already been doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Paul reminds the Thessalonians to support the fellow believers but also commends them on the fact that they are already doing it. Essentially, he says they’ve been doing a good job but tells them not to stop.
Likewise friends, I know we’ve all been trying hard to stay positive and encourage one another during this season but we can’t stop now. We have to stay hopeful.
So how do we do that when the world looks like it's falling apart?
Well, lets look back at Paul’s words.
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)
Paul gives three very practical suggestions that we can apply today.
- Rejoice always
We are to find joy in the everyday. The Passion Translation says it like this.
“Let joy be your continual feast.”
I love the image of a joy feast. What would be on your table? We often talk about gratitude lists but consider starting a joy list, write down all of the things that bring you joy and then try to find ways to do them. Things like;
- Creating a worship playlist of your favorite songs
- Talking on the phone with a friend
- Cooking your favorite meal
As believers, our joy comes from the Lord not our circumstances, so while circumstances might currently seem less than ideal, God is still in all things. We can rejoice always because the Holy Spirit is at work our hearts producing the fruit of joy.
- Pray continually.
How’s your prayer life these days? If you’re anything like me maybe you’re starting to feel like we’re just repeating the same prayers over and over again and we’re not seeing a lot change. But praying continually keeps us connected to the Lord. It keeps our focus on Him instead of on the challenges we are facing.
If you’re looking to change up your prayer practice, consider setting up a time to pray with a Pastor this week or joining in for our Friday community prayer time.
- Give thanks in all circumstances.
Really Paul, all circumstances? Yes. ALL.
Recently my daughter received a thank you card from a friend for a birthday gift she had given to her. And I thought how sweet it was that she went through the trouble of writing a thank you note. While I think it’s become a bit of a lost art, there’s something so thoughtful about taking the time to acknowledge someone for a gift they’ve given. The fact that we are to “give” thanks makes me think that the act of thanking is a gift too. It’s something we are able to give back to the Lord for all of His blessings.
What if we were to think of our days as a thank you card for the Lord? To just pause in the middle of our day and acknowledge the Giver of all blessings?
If you already have a gratitude practice in place, this could also be an opportunity to give thanks to others. Consider getting a small stack of thank you cards and writing one each day to thank someone; maybe a friend or co-worker, a pastor, or even your Uber Eats delivery person.
Paul says, we are to do these things because it’s God’s will for us.
We can’t control our external circumstances but we can do our best to rest in His will.