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Thankful in All Things: How Practicable is That?

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus…The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (I Thessalonians 5: 16-24).

God welcomes us to a life of continuous joy and thankfulness. Though it may seem difficult to imagine living such a joyful life in light of the practical realities of human existence, yet the Word of God gives us clues to the fact that this life is not only possible but mandatory for a victorious life. Paul’s epistle to the Philippian Church gives us helpful hints on the origin of this kind of joy (Philippians 1: 3-26). In this one epistle alone, Paul mentions “joy” or “rejoice” about 14 times. In fact, this letter is perhaps the most personal of Paul’s letters written to a Church. Why was it rather easy for Paul to gush with such joy, happiness and thankfulness, even though he was in prison? Paul’s joy was rooted in understanding of:

Covenant Relationship: The city of Philippi was the chief city in Macedonia where Paul started a Church (Acts 16:11-12). This Church had such a special relationship with Paul. No wonder the mere thought of them evokes joy and thanksgiving in him (Vs 3-6). Recalling our wonderful relationship with Christ ought to fill us with joy; as well as remembering that God has blessed us with spouses, children, friends, covenant partners etc.

Sacrificial Love: Every time we go all out to show sacrificial love to others, not only do we fill another soul with joy, but we also are filled with joy unspeakable. The Philippian Church loved Paul, and gave to him sacrificially (Vs 7-11, Philippians 4: 10-16). Is it surprising then that Paul was filled with joy each time he thought about them? And how wonderful is the love of Christ that saved us from our sin (Romans 5:9-11, Hebrews 13:11-16).

God Himself: Paul had a deep revelation of the love, integrity, faithfulness and power of God. The result is a joyful surrender to God, knowing that He is working all things for good (Vs 12-22, Romans 8:28, Philippians 2:13). No wonder Paul tells us to rejoice in God always (Philippians 3: 1).

Our Response
What then should be our response to such revelation of God’s love, faithfulness and power?

Refuse to Murmur: If we know that God is sovereign, then let’s endeavor to stop murmuring and complaining. Philippians 2:14-15, 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10. Life is full of minor irritations, but we are called to live above such irritations, as we trust in God who knows and sees all.

Give thanks in ALL things: I know that this may sound rather extreme. Can any one actually give thanks in ALL things; or should we even give thanks in ALL things for that matter? But God’s word is straightforward: “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18). This is perhaps the greatest expression of our faith in God who cares for us intensely and is deeply committed to our good. Psalm 50: 23. We may not always understand what He has allowed, but we can rest in the fact that He loves us and cares deeply about us. Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 84: 11.

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