Yesterday as we were out on an errand, my nearly nine-year old suddenly said out loud, “It’s no fair. We worked so hard all year, and we didn’t get to go on one field trip! And, we don’t get to have field day!” I didn’t mention that this weekend would have also been her dance recital.
In that moment, I thought about all the events we’ve missed and will be missing. It’s not only the sporting events, dances, and birthday parties of April, but almost all of our May and summer activities have been canceled, as well. Graduations? Canceled or postponed. Camps? Canceled. Vacation Bible Schools? Canceled (or virtual). Races. Canceled. Pools? Closed. Theme parks? Closed. Concerts? Canceled. Sporting events? Canceled.
Or, so it definitely seems, huh?
There’s a verse that has frequently come to my mind throughout this whole ordeal, and while I usually prefer the NASB version, I think the AMP version is quite powerful:
“Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Thessalonian church who were being faithful in the midst of terrible persecution. Who better to receive encouragement and instruction for tough times than from Paul?
There’s a story from Corrie Ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, that I often reflect on when I hear or read this verse. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were prisoners in one of the Nazi concentration camps, due to helping hide Jews from the Germans. One night while they picked lice off one another, Betsie reminded Corrie to “be thankful”, and Corrie asked what they had to be thankful for. Betsie told her that they could be thankful for the lice since it kept them from being abused by the soldiers.
While we are certainly not in the same situation as the Thessalonians or the Ten Booms, I know that life doesn’t seem as it should. It’s been difficult. People are struggling financially, emotionally, and mentally. There are many unknowns. Huge milestones can’t be celebrated as we’ve always hoped. Life truly does seem canceled. We need to mourn those things, to be sad, and to wish they were honestly different.
However, let me encourage you again, as the Lord has often done for me, to rejoice always; pray without ceasing, be thankful, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. God has not left the throne; He isn’t worried. He knows all and sees all. He is using this time to make Himself known to a lost world, and one of His vessels is you.
Remember that as believers, “you are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16)
When we portray to the world that all is lost, that the government has doomed us, and that life will never be the same, we are not letting our light shine. We are not pointing people to Jesus. We are not having an attitude of gratitude. We are not choosing to rejoice. Instead, we are sharing in the disgruntlement, the spread of fear, and pointing people to our current circumstances, instead to the One Who is in control of all things and turns the hearts of kings like channels of water (Proverbs 21:1).
When you have a heart of gratitude in the midst of chaos, people observe that and are attracted to it. Sure you may have disappointments and heartache, but what people see is your peace in spite of it all, and peace is what people are seeking. Why are you rejoicing? How can you be thankful for any of this? When you are praying without ceasing to the living God and being thankful in all things, you have the opportunity to point them to Jesus. This is an incredible time to share the hope that lies within you!
And that’s always the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
So, what are you thankful for right now? How has God’s will for this time brought you gratitude?