Day 6

Day 6: Gratitude

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Lesson: In this current season where so many people in our world are suffering be it from COVID-19 itself or from the ramifications of the virus such as unemployment and isolation, the words of Paul in the opening verse can seem artificial and unrealistic. How can Paul possibly tell us to give thanks to God while people are dying, facing major financial issues, and struggling to cope with this new normal? Does he really mean for us to give thanks in all circumstances?

In order to better understand Paul and the sentiments behind his words penned to the church in Thessalonica, it would be helpful to gain a little context. When we turn to the beginning of the letter, we learn that Paul wrote this letter to a new church that was facing trials and persecutions in hopes of encouraging and instructing their faith. In 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, we learn that Paul longs to be with them himself but is unable to do so and has sent Timothy in his place. When Paul had been in Thessalonica, many of the Jews were upset by Paul’s ministry, so they had formed a mob to go after him and the other believers who supported him (Acts 17:1-9). 

Paul was no stranger to suffering and persecution, and this mob is just one example of his many trials. Several of his letters were written while he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, and he was ultimately sentenced to death for his work. So, when Paul tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, we can trust that he truly means it. Paul speaks these words not to belittle suffering, but because he knows that his hope for the future is in Christ and that God is with him in his present suffering.

When we practice gratitude, we are not denying our struggles and pain. We are not simply putting on a happy face and faking it; rather, we are finding God’s goodness and mercy in the midst of the chaos. In the moments when we feel there is not much to be grateful for, we can always remember Christ’s suffering on the cross and thank God for the new life we have in him.

Activity: Reflect on Paul’s words in the opening verse. Pray that God would help you better practice gratitude in your daily life. Here are some ideas for how to practice gratitude today:
  • Start a gratitude list
  • Whenever you feel yourself falling into negative thinking, acknowledge your thoughts, then think of three things you are grateful for in that moment.
  • Write a thank-you note to someone who has gone out of their way to encourage you during this time
  • Think of 3 people you are grateful for and call/text them to express your gratitude
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