DG-blog-header-11-21 The past six months or so have been neither kind nor gentle with me. I've experienced a season wherein confusion, frustration, and discouragement abound. It is difficult to celebrate a holiday centered on thankfulness when your heart feels bare, isn't it? Turkey and dressing can only heal so much, wishbones and football can only distract for mere moments. This holiday season, we have to rely on something far sturdier and far greater than traditions and distractions. We have to rely on the Word of God.

"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This verse has been on repeat in my mind for the past month or so. Paul wrote his letter to the Thessalonians because he knew that they were oppressed. Experiencing persecution at every turn, having false prophets among them, these believers were surely confused. Disillusioned. They were hurting, as some among them were likely to have been martyred for their faith. They were fearful as caricatured prophets sought to mislead their hearts with false doctrine. Amid their distress, Paul tells them to rejoice. Rejoice always. DG-instas-Nov21- In my season, rejoicing is the absolute last thing that I want to do. I don't want to give thanks or praise to God because in my hardened heart, I can't find hope within me to rejoice in. Rejoicing isn't natural when struggles abound. But, that's part of the point, isn't it? Praising God isn't conditional. A posture of thankfulness is indiscriminate.We give thanks in every season, knowing that the Lord's goodness in immutable, never changing. His holiness is in no way dependent on our circumstances. We rejoice at all times because the Lord is always worthy of praise. He is sturdy, fixed, and constant. Our reason for thanksfulness never waivers because God never changes. Paul ties a heart of thankfulness to a robust prayer life. Prayer is our communication to God, our direct line to the Father. We pray to Him, giving thanks in everything. We pray to Him in order to communicate that He is our source of joy. We pray constantly because our hearts need it, desperately. Especially when morale is plummeting. Perhaps the most dramatic part of the passage comes next: for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Paul originally told this to the Thessalonians to encourage them that despite the chaos that surrounded their lives. God had purposed the seemingly terrible things for them. It was His divine plan for them. He intended it for them, and not for their harm but for their holiness and sanctification. Whatever they endured, they did so because God permitted it. Therefore, these things were'n't terrible at all. They were for their good. They drew them closer to the Father and testified to a watching, lost world to the sufficiency of Christ for joy. We, too, can take heart in this fact. God does not plan harm for us but wills our circumstances for good. We give thanks and rejoice because of the assurance that God has a purpose for our pain. It will not go unused and it certainly isn't unseen. God is preparing us through sufferings and confusion. He is making a way for us to be made holier. DG-instas-Nov21-2 The holidays can be the most challenging part of the year for some. For others, it's the most magical. Regardless of your circumstance, though, I urge you to have a heart filled with thankfulness to God. He has purposed your circumstances for your good and His fame. He has ordained the things in your life, the confusion, sorrow, homesickness, and loss, all to make you holier. All to be conformed to His likeness. This holiday season, and every season, let's choose thankfulness. Let's choose to rejoice in the salvation of God, who sent His son to absorb the penalty of sin on our behalf. Who died for our sake that we may live. Who was resurrected, defeating death, so that we could be resurrected, too. Let's rejoice that when Christ proclaimed, "it is finished" on the cross, we were granted access to the Father because of the absolution of sins. Let's rejoice that we never have to pay the ultimate price for our rebellion because Jesus covered the cost. These things are unchanging and unchangeable. Let's give unending thanks in that. DG-instas-Nov21-3 Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.
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