“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
There is a clear switch from October 31st to November 1st: Halloween season to Thanksgiving season. We flip from saying “trick or treat” to telling all of our Facebook friends what we are thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches.
I know for me personally, I am guilty of only focusing on the things I am thankful for during the month of November, but God calls us to give thanks in ALL circumstances. With that, I struggle with the concept of giving thanks in ALL circumstances. It is easy to thank God during the times that life is great, but what about during the hard times? How am I supposed to thank God when all I want to do is curl up in my bed in cry?
One thing that I have learned over the years is that the only way to make it through hard times is to find the good in every single situation. Even during the stormy seasons of life, there are lessons to be learned, people to meet and ways to grow spiritually. God does not do anything without a purpose, so it is up to us to take responsibility in finding things to give thanks for, even when it requires some deep thinking.
In order to “give thanks in all circumstances,” I think it is also important to focus on the first two calls of action in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
First, it says to “be joyful always.” As followers of Christ, we know that joy only comes from one place: the Lord. In order to be joyful, we have to have a relationship with our Lord and Savior. When you have that relationship with the Lord, I still think that as followers of Christ we have to consciously make a decision every day to choose joy.
Next, it says to “pray continually.” How do you keep healthy relationships with your friends, family, or your significant other? You talk to them. You cannot expect to have a healthy relationship with God if you do not make an effort to talk to him daily through prayer. God wants to have a relationship with you where you can talk to him about your day, the things that are going well for you and the things that are not going well in your life. He cares about you and every single thing that happens in your life. God even cares about the little things that you think do not matter. He sincerely cares and wants you to talk to him about everything.
When you put the first two calls to action of this verse to work in your life “be joyful always” and “pray continually,” then I promise it will make it easier for you to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
For me, “giv(ing) thanks in all circumstances,” is split into two parts at the moment: things that are making me happy and things that are stressing me out.
I am thankful for many things, but specifically this month the happy things that I am thankful for include: that I got to spend this weekend with my Nana, that my parents are coming up for the OU vs. TCU football game next weekend, that my best friend and I just signed a lease for our apartment for next year and that I get to go home and see my family for Thanksgiving.
Even though I am super stressed out at the moment, I am thankful that my classes are challenging and teaching me more than I could ever imagine, that the storms of life are making me stronger, and that God continues to push me to become a better version of myself.
So in the midst of stress and struggling to end the year with good grades, I am going to do my best to “give thanks in all circumstances” because that is God’s will.