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Lenten Devotional: March 26, 2024

by Helen and Paxton French

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”

Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks. Three things we can do in every moment of our lives. Sounds simple, right?

As Jesus hung on the cross, I wonder what those who loved Him were thinking. It seems plausible that they were praying and crying out to God to ease the pain, sorrow, and agony of those hours. But rejoicing? Giving thanks? That somehow seems counter intuitive. How do you rejoice and give thanks amid sorrow and struggle?

Our rejoicing might come easy to us when the circumstances in our lives are going the way we would like them to. Our prayer life might be more active when we want God to give us answers and orchestrate the circumstances of our lives to go according to our plan. Our thankfulness might flow out of our hearts more readily when we get what we want.

But scripture doesn’t say rejoice only when you feel like it, pray only when you need something and give thanks only when you get your way. The apostle Paul tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. Certainly not simple, but not impossible.

When we contemplate the immense, everlasting love God has for us it helps us to put the trials and struggles of our lives into a different perspective. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

When we rest in the truth of God’s love for us, we see that we never face anything alone. Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” God is always with us, and we are always loved by Him. Surely that is cause for rejoicing and giving thanks!

Our prayer life can reveal to us our level of dependence on God. Prayer should be our first response to all things, not our last resort when other options have failed, or we can’t figure something out on our own.

When we don’t go to God first in prayer, whether it’s to praise or petition Him, we fall into the trap of thinking we can do things apart from Him and we miss out on an opportunity to talk to our Creator, the one who knows us best.

This Holy Week as we contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ I wonder if we can surrender our hearts more fully to God? Can we trust and obey Him more readily, so that we will rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances?


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