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Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What makes you happy? What causes you to have joy? If you were to ask most people this question they would no doubt describe an activity, a person, a certain type of weather or some environmental situation.

It’s human nature for us to allow the environment around us to dictate our moods and disposition. The Apostle Paul teaches us that this reaction to the things around us is completely opposite of how we should react as Christ-followers. He tells us that we should always be joyful. Joy should be a defining characteristic of each of us regardless of what is going on around us.

Paul goes on to say that we should pray continually. This doesn’t mean that we should spend all of our time going around with our eyes closed, our heads bowed and completely oblivious to the world around us. Paul is telling us that wherever we are, and in whatever situation we find ourselves in, we should have a constant awareness that God is there, He’s aware of our thoughts and feelings and He wants to be a part of every part of our life.

Lastly Paul says that we should be thankful in all circumstances. There are some people who will try to get you to believe that if you only have enough faith and trust in Jesus then all of your circumstances will be happy ones. Nothing is farther from the truth. In fact, take a look at the life of Paul! The very person that writes that we should have unending joy and thankfulness was left for dead after being stoned, beaten numerous times, spent several nights in a cold dark prison and was shipwrecked. He spent much of his ministry in conflict with either the Romans (who eventually killed him) or the Jews (who tried several times to murder him).

Sometimes people allow their circumstances to control their entire lives. They let circumstances affect their job, school, relationships and even their view of God. They become bitter, angry and discouraged. Feelings of hopelessness and failure seem to follow them everywhere they go. Their attitude can even affect those around them and destroy the atmosphere of an entire room!

How was Paul able to live a life of joy and thankfulness in such painful circumstances? Paul learned and lived a lesson that each of us should learn: We don’t rejoice in the circumstances that hold us. We rejoice in the One who holds the circumstances!

Faith in Jesus is more than a ‘pie in the sky’ philosophy. The rewards we get from following Him aren’t only limited to eternity. He is with us wherever we go. He loves us no matter what. He is always willing to forgive us and comfort us.

Sometimes we suffer because of our own poor decisions. Sometimes we suffer because other people are evil and intent on hurting us. Regardless of the reason for your pain, Jesus wants you to know that he loves you and will help you through every circumstance you encounter, no matter how painful; no matter who is at fault.

Learn to rejoice in the one who holds your circumstances and the power of those circumstances to hold you will be destroyed. You will be able to live a life of joy in the midst of adversity.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you for the fact that you know what I’m going through. I praise you for the truth that no matter what happens around me, You are there to comfort, love and strengthen me. I want to live a life of joy and thankfulness. Please empower me by Your Holy Spirit to rejoice in you and not let my environment affect how I feel about myself, others or you. Amen.

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