1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV): Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
No matter how badly things in this world seem to be going, God’s people do NOT have permission to be negative. Negativity about this world actually demonstrates a lack of faith in God, as if He has somehow lost control of the situation, or as if He were absent or unconcerned. God is still on the job, working His plan, now as much as ever. But we as His people need to realize that His plan is much larger than anyone on earth can conceive. Even though He is present in the heart of every believer; even though He hears the smallest whispered prayer; even though He knows each person inside and out, down to the number of hairs on their heads; His plan is cosmic in scope, universal in its reach. And He IS moving His plan forward, even in this sin-broken world.
For that reason, God’s people are to be optimistic always – to continually look for the progress that is being made. We have an advantage these days in that we can instantly hear what God is doing, even halfway around the world. We need to let every word of people turning to God in other parts of the world inspire us, and move us to continue the work in our own communities.
In addition, each of God’s people must pray continually – that is, we must stay in constant communion with Him, continually bringing our community, our people before Him, and then keeping the line actively open so that we can hear His voice immediately whenever He speaks (and He speaks a LOT to those who are listening!). Too many end their formal prayer time with an “Amen,” and then close the line and move on with their day, shifting their minds to other things. It is difficult for God to get His word through to people who aren’t actively listening.
Each of us, as God’s people, must also cultivate a habit of thankfulness. In America God has given each of us so much every day: He provides food in abundance; shelter of a quality rarely seen in the world; transportation, technology, health care; and time to enjoy it all. He has blessed His people with brothers and sisters in Christ who are walking the road along with us. He has given us His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He has provided His Holy Spirit to purify, to guide, and to bring us all the way home to heaven’s gates. But when praise reports and testimonies are asked for, there is silence, hesitancy, deep thought and furrowed brows, as if God’s blessings are so rare and so small that it takes effort to find a single one to the thank Him for! We, as God’s people, are to understand and appreciate all of His blessings, and to be thankful for them always, no matter what other circumstance are impacting our lives.
Father, forgive us for our pessimism, for our independence, and especially for our lack of thankfulness, which is taking You for granted. Help us to never be that way again. Instead, help us to ALWAYS live in a spirit of optimism that Your plan is moving forward; constant communion with You, no matter what we are doing; and massive thankfulness for Your extraordinary blessings every day. Amen.
Even though the day be laden
And my task dreary
And my strength small,
A song keeps singing
in my heart.
For I know that I am Thine.
I am part of Thee.
Thou art kin to me,
And all my times
Are in Thy hand.