"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 ESV
Paul is writing to encourage the church to keep going, and teaching them how to do that well. Part of this advice is to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. He gives them these three actions to perform knowing it will set their minds on truth. He invites them to celebrate, to talk to God, and to give thanks in all circumstances. We are also told to give thanks in everything in Ephesians. That is a rather hard concept for me to grab hold of. Because when I am in a really hard place my last natural response is to give thanks. But I think that is the point.
Regardless of what our natural reaction is to what life throws at us, Paul is inviting us to give thanks anyways. To choose thankfulness. To wakeup on the really sucky days and instead of drowning in self-pity or expecting the day to go like the last 50 have, to remind ourselves who we are and who God is. To be thankful that our God is good, that he is for us, that his love endures forever, that he saved us, that he is bringing us deeper and deeper into righteousness. I don't think Paul is expecting us to be thankful that our car is broken down, or that we have ben abandoned by people or unloved by the world, I think he wants us to set our eyes again and again on God. Realigning our hope with who God is instead of where we are- this way we can be joyful and thankful regardless of our season because our God never changes.
So for me, it's as difficult and as simple as speaking out loud, "God, thank you that (insert truth here)". Simple because I'm speaking out what I know to be true of God and difficult because that simple action hurls my soul through the reality that I may not actually believe it... But with every breath I start to. For me right now it's "God thank you that you are good". The more I align myself and my soul with who God is, the more I really do believe it. Choosing to be thankful when I want to throw a 4 year old pity party .. or am .. really helps with that. When things are awesome thankfulness is a natural response - which is amazing and so so fun- but it is much more meaningful and more lasting work when you don't want to do it. Choosing thankfulness will instill in you a resilience, hope, and joy that is rooted in who God is- so it can't be moved. That's worth it.
Whatever it is that has been bogging you down recently, try and think of who God is over your situation. Now take that truth and thank God that He is who he says He is. He is God over your situation. Pray, "God, thank you that you are good. All the time, no matter what You are good. Teach me how to remember who you are and how to choose gratitude even when life is the worst. Teach me how to rejoice and praise you when everything works out! God instill in me a deep knowledge of your goodness that will push me to praise and thank you everyday. Thank you that I have an insanely large list of things to be grateful for. Open my eyes to all of the ways your kindness has touched me. Come and encounter me today. I love you, amen."