Be Joyful Always
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The past few weeks I have put this passage in the order of service before Communion. It is one of my favorite bible passages. It packs so much content in a single sentence. I think that is why they divided this one sentence into three verses.
Joy is a part of life that God wants us to have in every situation and place. Being Joyful is different than being happy. The scripture never says being happy the same as being joyful. Jonah was happy when he was provided shade from a vine to protect him from the sun. Then a worm came the next day and killed the vine and Jonah was not happy. Happiness is based on present circumstances but joy is founded upon eternal blessings and relationships. Here in 2016 Cubs fans were happy when the Cubs won a game for the past 108 years, but they were joyful when they became World Series champions because that title will be with them always.
Joy comes the more time we spend in honest living with God, in honest speaking with God in prayer. That is why this passage then relates joy with prayer. God’s blessings and promises in Jesus are not here one day and gone the next, but forever. Prayer takes us out of the routine day and brings us into the presence of the eternal God, who is waiting to hear from us but even more wants to bring even more in knowledge and grace.
Finally, this passage asks us to give thanks, in every circumstance. Being thankful is one thing we do in the coming week. My prayer is that each of you have a week where you can reflect upon all of the blessings we have been given in every circumstance. That is what inspires us to give thanks as the people of God, which brings Joy, which turns hearts to God in prayer. Giving is an act that brings us outside ourselves to see others and even ourselves as God sees us.