Rejoice always … for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“What does God want from me, and what does he want for me?” These two big questions nag us throughout life. We try to decide on a career, a school, a partner—or even smaller things, like what book to read, film to see, or game to play. And we may wonder, “What does God want?”
Well, one thing is clear: he wants us to rejoice—always!
The adverb “always” trips us up. How is it possible to rejoice always? How can we give thanks when we are sick or in a recession, or when we get a poor grade or lose a friend?
It must be possible, or God would not “will” it for us.
Moreover, Paul makes it plain enough, even adding that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances.” A preacher may point out to us in a sermon sometime that “rejoice” and “give thanks” are related in the Greek language in which Paul was writing. Both words have grace as their root.
I wonder if it helps to ponder the last words of verse 18: “in Christ Jesus.”
I may have lost my job or wrecked my car, but God wills me to rejoice anyway “in Christ Jesus.” This will take some pondering, but there is a way to joy there. (Hint: Giving thanks in all circumstances is not the same as giving thanks for all circumstances.)
Lord, help us to see the possibility of joy “always” in con-nection with having peace in Christ, for we know you are always with us and our souls are secure in your hand. Amen.
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