1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Some verses—like today’s—are easier to memorize than practice. Giving thanks is easy, but giving thanks in everything is a nearly impossible task. And gratitude at times even seems inappropriate, considering the depth of pain or turmoil we are experiencing. But we have a Comforter who helps us exercise thankfulness in every situation.
The Holy Spirit enables believers to do what God requires, and teaching us a gratitude habit is part of His work. Psalm 92 teaches that since “it is good to give thanks to the Lord,” we should “declare [His] lovingkindness in the morning and . . . faithfulness by night” (vv. 1-2). In other words, we should regularly anticipate and recall His provision. But when believers awaken to painful circumstances that have no logical reason for thankfulness, our Comforter provides the motivation and words.
Expressing thanks during turmoil takes place neither spontaneously nor apart from another spiritual activity—prayer. Today’s passage links the disciplines of rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving: both exultation and gratitude hinge upon regular communication with God. A prayerless man cannot remain thankful for long, because he is too overwhelmed by his problems. Talking with God forces problems to recede so they can be replaced by peace.
Why does the Lord command us to exercise gratitude? Because He knows that when we focus on His work in our life, we’ll discover our spirits lifting and courage strengthening. Then as we watch Him intervene, we rejoice more, pray more fervently, and learn to give thanks in everything.