1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to give God thanks always, and in all things. It tells us to thank God continually- no matter whether our situation is good or bad. We aren’t to thank Him for a bad situation, as many Christians do; “Thank you God for causing me to lose my house because through it you are teaching me not to idolize possessions.” That example isn’t of God because it goes against the scripture that says that He provides for all of our needs according to His riches. Shelter is a need, as is food and clothing. Thanking God is telling Him that you are thankful that He has provided a way out of this storm, that He is faithful to provide in His timing, that His timing is always perfect, and that He will turn ashes into beauty. Those are all scriptural promises that will provide you with peace.
In bad situations, praise takes the focus off of the negativity that ensnares us, and causes us to focus on God. It builds our hope, and our faith. Positive confessions change the atmosphere to ones of hope and not loss. While it’s not easy to give praise when you are feeling lost, it is necessary because it reminds you of God’s goodness.
It’s easy to praise God when things are going well, but when we are struggling… Well, that’s an entirely different story! Yet scripture instructs us to count it all joy- meaning to find peace in the midst of a storm with a complete faith that God will handle the situation. Joy is the ability to handle any situation with peace, and happiness because when you know who God is and what He can do, you know that your success is guaranteed. Worrying about tomorrow doesn’t allow for peace, nor does it help faith. In fact, some would say that a lack of faith causes you to be double-minded- something God doesn’t like.
How Do You Continue To Build Your Faith Through Storms?
Let’s take a journey through Psalm 34 (NASB)…
- Verses 1-3, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.” This scripture isn’t about just saying thank you for what God has provided, but thanking God that there is a solution to your problems, or praising the Lord in faith for what He is about to do. When you know God, you realize that He is faithful, He is no respecter of persons, and He cannot go against His Word. If His promises are yes and amen, then it’s just a matter of timing. Praise builds our faith because it incorporates hope for what is yet to be manifest.
- Ever fought with unanswered prayer or wrestled with the fact that it seems like God isn’t even listening? Verse 4 says, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.” What about verse 10-“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.” How do you count it all joy when it appears that God is silent? Well, are you complaining about the problem or asking God for wisdom over the situation? We need to ask God for understanding and guidance when we don’t understand. Sometimes we may need to change something in us, or He is just waiting for you to invite Him into a situation. Sometimes it’s that we aren’t seeking Him, but dwelling in our own problems- then God can’t move. Additionally, sometimes a lack of answers can be due to the relationship you have with Christ. It can also be that He has answered, but you don’t like what He is saying. God’s delays aren’t always denials, and everything happens in His timing because all things work together for our good. Rejoice because God can change things in an instant, and your miracle may be closer than you think. But if you aren’t joyful, then you are missing those precious moments in between.
- Know that God always hears your cries and will deliver you from your troubles. Verse 15 gives encouragement with,“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous. And His ears are open to their cry.”. Verses 17-19 gives the promise: “The righteous cry, and the LORD hears. And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted. And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Knowing that God hears you and delivers you is worthy of praise. It increases your faith because you know that God is near, and He knows what you are going through. He will be faithful to deliver you.
- Realize that God has not abandoned you. If we have come to a place where we are crushed, overwhelmed, and broken, it may be that we are trying to control things too tightly in our lives. We may need to surrender and let God take over. God is there as a place of refuge during a storm, and if we seek His peace, He is faithful to give us rest.
In the end, how do you count it all joy when everything seems to be going wrong? You realize that everything has a season, and all seasons have an end. Yours will come sooner than you realize.
Joy comes when you are able to take refuge in God and walk in peace. Then you have the confidence to know that everything is okay. Joy come in knowing that despite your circumstances, God has always made a way of escape, and will never give you more than you can bear. And even when we don’t understand, we need to know that all things work together for our good, and sometimes even for our protection.
Ask God to bring joy where there is pain, peace where there is turmoil, and a way where there is no way. Ask Him to show you how to walk in joy- no matter what your circumstance.