Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
While in my early years of college, I met with my pastor to talk about God’s will for my life. I was seeking wisdom for the next right path to take in my desire to serve God.
He helped me uncomplicate something we often want to complicate. He gently, yet powerfully, encouraged me that if I wanted to know God’s will for my life, I should start with what God tells us in His word. Over and over in the Bible God’s will is very clear. It is not as mysterious as we may think.
Take the passage above, for example. In three short verses, we are told three things that are clearly God’s will.
Give thanks in all circumstances.
What is God’s will in relating to someone who is “prickly” and hard to love? Rejoice in the opportunity to be used by God to demonstrate the unconditional, patient, and gracious love of Jesus.
What is God’s will when we are facing a difficult decision? Pray,pray, and pray some more. We present our requests to God and trust Him with the answer.
And what is God’s will for our attitudes and perspective when life is hard and not going the way we want? We give thanks to God for His presence. We are grateful that He promises He will never leave us or reject us. We give thanks for what God has done for us in the past and we give thanks in faith for what He will do in the future.
The month of November often causes us to stop and reflect on what we are thankful for and, although that is a good thing, going deeper with the why we should be thankful can sustain our attitude of gratitude–especially when we are tempted to grumble in the midst of adverse circumstances.
So why should we be thankful?
It’s simple, yet supremely important–because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus.
And don’t you want to be doing God’s will? I certainly do!
I am not saying that knowing God’s will in a major decision or complex situation is a simple process. Yet as we practice rejoicing, praying, and being thankful on a regular basis we will be setting our hearts, minds, and desires on things above – on what God desires. And in doing so we will make ourselves open to receive the clarity and understanding of His will – His good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
So perhaps today you can be a little less overwhelmed or intimidated by the mystery of God’s will and instead be confident in knowing that when you choose rejoicing over complaining, praying over worrying, and gratitude over grumbling, God is pleased. And you can know without a doubt that you are on the right path.