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 NIV
In 1949 the British author Dorothy Sayers made a typically profound observation that is even more relevant today than it was seventy-three years ago. She said that if a person insisted on denying reality and continued to believe that the universe exists to supply his or her needs, they would soon begin to conceive that the universe bears an implacable hostility toward them and their needs. The result would be a generally disgruntled attitude and a sense that life is not fair.
Such people, she said, are always going around with a bad case of “the blues.” She further says that to choose to remain in this state is to choose to enter into the experience of hell.
When I read these words, I immediately thought how well they describe the situation in our society today. We are surrounded by masses of disgruntled people, people who are angry because things are not going their way. They are not getting what they want, and they are going to get it, or know the reason why! Sadly, I find too many Christians in this same state. After all, we are in the right, and it is just wrong that the society should hold us in contempt. Furthermore, we know what is right, and we are going to make the society conform to it.
To all of this, the Apostle Paul has three words: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything.” That is the prescription for victorious living. We don’t get what we deserve? Give thanks! What we deserve is the back of God’s hand! Anything good we receive from him is undeserved. Treated with contempt or worse? Take it to God, unload it on him, and be free. Dark and difficult days? Rejoice in the face of the Father shining on you with love. In everything there is reason to give thanks, if we will. The old line says it well: “I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Which do we choose? Gratitude for what we have, or anger for what we don’t have? Heaven or Hell?