In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the apostle Paul encourages the church in Thessalonica to do three things in view of the Lord’s coming and the difficulties they were facing. He builds them up with these statements: 1. Rejoice Always, 2. Pray without Ceasing, and 3. In Everything Give Thanks.
It’s intriguing that while he is in prison experiencing lots of hardships, the apostle Paul tells the Philippian Church to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). This teaches us that regardless of difficult circumstances, a Christian always has grounds for rejoicing (see 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 3).
Praying, on the other hand, should be something that we do at all times without stopping, i.e. we must learn to maintain a prayerful attitude in all situations. Even while we are at a traffic light, we can whisper a prayer to the Lord–of course with our eyes open 🙂
The third exhortation is especially not an easy one to do. Giving thanks to God in all circumstances is no cup of tea. But it is what the Word of God teaches us to do. It is, therefore, for our good that we respond with gratitude to all that happens to us whether good or bad. May these words of the apostle Paul to the Roman Church cheer us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).
As we face difficult moments, may we always be aware of the fact that we are not alone–God is with us. The apostle Paul, writing from personal experience in relation to suffering, had this to say to the Corinthian Church:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation
(2 Corinthians 1:2-7).
The Puritans went through many storms of life, but they always encouraged themselves in the Lord and sought His help which they knew was only a prayer away. Below is one of their prayers taken from p. 166 of the book, THE VALLEY OF VISION: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions:
Streams upon streams of love overflow my path... Thanks be to Thee for my high and holy calling. I bless Thee for ministering angels, for the comfort of Thy Word, for the ordinance of the church, for the teaching of Thy Spirit, for the holy sacraments, for the communion of saints, for Christian fellowship, for the recorded annals of holy lives, for examples sweet to allure, for beacons sad to deter. Thy will is in all Thy provisions to enable me to grow in grace. and to be meet for Thy eternal presence. My heaven-born faith gives promise to eternal sight, my new birth a pledge of never-ending life. I draw near to Thee, knowing Thou wilt draw near to me. I ask of Thee, believing Thou hast already given. I entrust myself to Thee, for Thou has redeemed me. I bless and adore Thee, the eternal God, for the comfort of these thoughts, the joy of these hopes.