As I have been studying the book of First Thessalonians, these familiar verses have taken on a new significance. The Thessalonians were enduring hardships and persecutions; they had witnessed Paul leave the congregation after a brief time of serving with them. Can you imagine what it would have been like as a new Christian to have your pastor leave and suddenly find yourself facing persecutions and hardships because of your newfound faith?
In the midst of this despair, it is interesting to note God’s word (as given through Paul) to these people. Rejoice always. Be people of prayer. Continue to give thanks. These are all commands from God, not just given as something to try, or if the mood should so strike them to do so. How is this possible?
God’s Word is unchanging. In the midst of our difficult circumstances and trials, God calls us to Him through prayer, thanksgiving and yes even joy. He desires that we would be people of prayer in constant communion with our Heavenly Father. God wills that we would give thanks for the blessings we have even in spite of our troubles. He calls us to rejoice in His might and power, even when things seem out of control. We cannot do these things on our own, but only by and through the power of the Holy Spirit (vs 19). Oh, that we would be filled with His Spirit, to react to life’s difficulties and hardships with the commitment to prayer and rejoicing in the faithfulness and mercies of God.
In reliance upon Him,
Pastor Kirk Thorson