‘Rejoice always!’ I Thessalonians 5:16
‘I am learning to find joy right here in the mess of things.’
This was the quote that greeted me in early July when I opened up my devotion for the day. At the time, this quote certainly spoke to me. Summer is supposed to be a time of respite and renewal. A chance to slow down, catch your breath, relax a bit before heading into the fall craziness of life. But, like everything else in 2020, our normal way of life, is anything but ‘normal.’ These past several months and weeks, with all that is going on, can be easily summed up by saying we are living ‘in the mess of things.’ So, how do we find joy in times like these? Where can our contentment of life be found? How can we really be happy? It begins by remembering to stay connected to God at all times. Which is why I find Paul’s words to be helpful in times like these.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Paul said, ‘Rejoice always,’ no matter the situation. Why? Because Paul knew, from his own experiences in life, that joyfulness is essential in order to love the life that God has given us. But how do we do that when life is a mess? When people let us down? When the world around us is going crazy? When hearts are broken? Paul answers these questions in the verses that follow. 1st Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to ‘pray without ceasing.’ Here Paul tells us that to find joy, we need to stay connected to God in prayer, asking God daily to fill us with joy based on our relationship with God—not our satisfaction with everything in life. Paul then shares, ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thess 5:18). As one person writes, ‘It is during our continued prayers, that we are to be grateful for all God has done for us and the life God’s given us. It is God’s will for us to live in joy, not because life is perfect but because God is.’
What Paul is appealing for us to do, especially ‘in times like these,’ is to intentionally focus on the good, instead of the bad. We should count our blessings rather than our burdens. To let our faith in God, not our feelings, or whatever craziness is happening in our lives, dictate our joy.
Pastor Brown <><