Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 6, 2011

not about the circumstance

Just last Saturday, I almost violated a principle that I had studied in Scripture that very morning. Plans were being made that would interrupt my already formed agenda for Sunday. Before thinking through what was happening, irritation started to well up in my spirit. Almost instantly a verse that I had studied that morning came to mind, and I was able to recalibrate my attitude. My momentary emotional reaction reminded me of how easy it is to stray from the very principles I hold dear. It also taught me how valuable it is to be in the Word every day, and that the Word of God works when we apply it.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

My instantaneous meltdown was created by the lack of a joyful spirit. Three days earlier I had written about rejoicing always, and just that morning had read the above passage, which contained the admonition to be joyful always. I am confident that you can relate to my frustration. It is often quoted that we should be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, but most people would classify those words as wishful thinking. Sure, all Christ followers would like to live that way, but few really believe it can happen for them. However, to ignore these admonitions is to ignore the command God gave for the Thessalonian Christians, and for us as well.

As I interpret this passage, it is clear that the will of God is for me (you) to be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. Why would God, through Paul choose to command us to flesh out impossible principles? He would not! Then it is logical to believe that any Christ follower can live with joy (a deep-down confidence that God is in control), have a constantly recurring prayer life and a heart that is so anchored with Christ that thankfulness flows in any circumstance.

Our Father knows that every circumstance is not good, and that some are just plain awful. He is not asking us to deny reality. However, when our confidence is firmly in Him, joy and a thankful heart will come from our relationship, not the circumstance.  Because praying continually is so much more about a relationship. When you or I choose to deepen our communication with the Father, continual prayer will be a result. No one prays all the time, but communication between close friends is recurring. God knows that we need to keep our confidence in Him for our own good and His glory. He also has given an avenue to continually relate to Him. So the commands to be joyful, thankful and to pray are in fact reasonable, and the will of God for every Christ follower.

You and I will continue to have momentary meltdowns. We can quickly violate the principles that we hold dear. Our primary concern however should not be that we will fail along the journey. Of greater concern is that we determine to live out what we believe. God absolutely gives His followers the power to live with joy, thankfulness and a prayerful heart. Since I know you believe His Word, would you consider living today joyfully, thankfully and prayerfully? It is not about your circumstances, but about your focus…. on Him!


  1. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with us Mike — we have ALL been there so many times before — I am sure that I have !
    Thanks for the reminder and your consistent help in helping us try to live with joy, thankfulness and a prayerful heart.


  2. My wayward heart so quickly forgets these things. Thanks for the reminder. I see it as part of the ‘good fight’ to have to fight to remind myself of these things when so much in our society pulls us away from them.

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