Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I love this verse. I’m not always good at following it, but it’s always close to mind. We’re encouraged to rejoice at all times, to pray continually and no matter what is going on in our lives – give thanks!
It is not suggesting we give thanks for our current circumstances, but in (and despite) our current circumstances!
Look at the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. They had just been severely beaten with rods and now sat in an inner prison cell with their feet in stocks. There was so much they could complain about. Instead they started praying and singing hymns to God.
Suddenly everyone’s chains fell off! Here we see the power of praise and worship in the midst of trial. I’m fairly confident the story would have had a different ending if they had let their circumstances pull them down.
I emphasized “everyone’s” in the last paragraph, because I had never read this passage in that way before. This story is not just about Paul and Silas – it’s bigger than that, as God’s story always is.
The rest of the prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas singing and praying, and in a moment, God showed up and broke everyone’s chains. Let us pray we see that happen when we meet! Jesus is our chain breaker!