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Humbled Gratitude-Devotional Series-Rejoice Always

Today we start a new 5-week series, Humbled Gratitude. As we enter into the fall season and prepare to spend time with family and friends during the upcoming holidays, I am prompted to reflect on what it means to be humbly grateful. I have chosen to study humbled gratitude because after living with the strife of my past, I know God helped me through it all. I can see it today because the Holy Spirit dwells within me and gives me the eyes to see it. I know his love never failed me. I know he offers grace to me even when I have failed him. That humbles me and creates within me a grateful spirit.

I have experienced difficult times, some of which were harder for me to handle during the holiday season. The grief of losing a loved one, the angst of not knowing where loved ones are, and of course, loving people who suffered from addiction occurred throughout my life and as I look back on them today, I can tell you I made it through it all, but I couldn’t have done it if God hadn’t been carrying me along the way.

  • Are you going through something difficult right this moment?

  • Are you trying desperately to find a way to be grateful through trying times?

  • Are you wondering if the pain will ever stop?

I’ve been there. Living with alcoholism or addiction can seem insufferable most days. I’ve lived for over 25 years with and around people who have an addiction. The pain it leaves behind is hurtful, but I can tell you today with confidence that this too shall pass. I realized, after spending time in prayer, the heartache happens sometimes to teach us what God wants us to know. I can’t always see the lesson during the trial, but God reveals the lesson over time.

That is precisely why in this week’s Scripture, Paul tells the church of Thessalonica to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." The church of Thessalonica was going through much persecution after Paul fled the area. Although Paul only spent a short time with the people, he built a strong relationship with them.

After receiving word of the persecution the people faced as a result of his teaching, Paul wrote them two letters to encourage them and send words of hope and instruction. Just imagine for a moment, living in a land where you are tortured as a result of your faith. Can you fathom it? I am humbly grateful the vast majority of Americans are not persecuted for their faith, but there are many even today in other parts of the world who are.

Thankfully many of the Thessalonian people were spared, but there were some who were killed as a result of their faith. Paul wanted them to know the hope found in Jesus Christ.

I may go through terrible trials, but nothing can possibly compare to what the Thessalonians suffered through during their time. I am humbled with sincere gratefulness and I am reminded through Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians, how I should be during my sufferings.

  • Rejoice always – Be cheerful in the face of my persecutors or in the midst of a trial. How on earth can I be cheerful when I really just want to cry? That is not what this truly means. To me, it means to be sad for a short time, feel the natural emotion for a while, but remember that this too shall pass. Then be cheerful knowing God will get me through.

  • Pray without ceasing – Prayer is vital to my comfort during difficult times. Paul is not instructing us to hold an unending prayer vigil; instead, he is telling us to pray with consistency and recurrence. Seeking God’s wisdom and comfort is what God desires for us. He wants us to depend upon Him for guidance.

  • In everything give thanks – We don’t necessarily think to be thankful when we are in the middle of hardship, but we are instructed to be thankful because that is God’s will for us. Paul is not telling us to be thankful for the circumstances, but be thankful because we know “God causes all things to work together for good.” (Romans 8:28). There is a purpose for our pain. We may not understand what the purpose is, but God knows best for us. Maybe there will be something we can learn from it or he intends for us to use our circumstances to possibly help others.