“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” -1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NASB.
A friend of mine shared a graphic on social media the other day that stopped me in my tracks and convicted my weary heart. It was a brief but powerful list of reasons to be thankful when we are tempted to complain. It said:
Early wakeups = Children to be loved
House to clean = safe place to live
Laundry = clothes to wear
Dishes to wash = food to eat
Endless questions = kids’ brains growing
If I am honest, I have not rejoiced in these blessings at all. I have complained, and often. So much so, I caught my six-year-old repeating phrases I had been saying as I grumbled with bitterness throughout my day.
Right after I saw that post on social media, the Holy Spirit brought the scripture to my mind that our pastor had just preached on Sunday earlier in the week; it was from 1 Thessalonians 5.
The Apostle Paul exhorts the believers at Thessalonica with these commands:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NASB).
I knew that the Bible talks consistently about the sin of complaining, but I did not realize how important it is for a believer to make joyful thanksgiving every moment of every day. In fact, it is God’s will for us to do this because we are in Christ and in Christ, we have much to be grateful for!
Knowing that our flesh would so much rather complain, grumble, stress out, and look at everything that is wrong, there is no doubt as to why the Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. We must lift up our hearts to the Lord for help if we are to walk in thanksgiving when the pressures of this life crowd in around us and try to weigh us down. We need His grace to rejoice. We need His strength to face each day, especially when our current season of life is stressful and physically and mentally exhausting.
Lately, I have been physically and emotionally drained. Stress has been so high for me that I was beginning to grow resentful. I truly needed a shift in my perspective because it was affecting my heart in major ways.
In addition to being thankful for my growing children, the safety and comfort of my home, clothes on my back, and food in my belly, as a believer, most of all, I needed God’s help to remind my soul of the eternal blessings that I have in Christ.
In Christ, I have access to the Father to come to Him in prayer because I am His child. In Christ, I have hope for eternal life. In Christ, I have peace knowing that my sins have been forgiven and I am justified before a Holy God. When I am tempted to complain about the stress and inconveniences of life, I must look to Jesus and ask Him to remind my heart of all of these blessings that are lavished upon me that I truly do not deserve, both earthly and eternal. It is God’s will for us to rejoice and be thankful, so may God’s will be done in my heart.
I am weary and worn out from the cares of this life. My heart is heavy and stressed and my body is feeling the effects of it all that seems to be weighing me down. My heart has become bitter and ungrateful; I have taken many blessings in my life for granted. Father, I repent of my complaining and grumbling. I know that I do not deserve anything that You have lavished upon me. You do not owe me a thing, yet you are such a great Father and provide for my needs and grant me Your unmerited favor and mercy each new day.
In addition to my physical needs being met, you have given me eternal life in Jesus Christ and peace knowing my sins have been forgiven because of what Jesus did for me on the cross when He laid down His life for me.
I come to You to help me rejoice and ask You to fill my heart with thanksgiving. Please remind my heart to begin each day with a grateful heart and know that I can pray anytime I am struggling with bitterness or I am tempted to grow resentful for all that You have freely given to me. Help me guard my heart against anything that may cause it to grow hard and bitter.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice and for the life that I find in You alone.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.