Rejoice, pray, give thanks

One of my favorite Bible passages is Paul’s advice to the church members in Thessalonica, Greece: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:16–18). 

The church had been facing persecution—physical threats by mobs, confiscation of property, economic and social isolation from the community—yet Paul was urging its members to respond in a way that must have seemed counterintuitive. He could certainly speak with authority, though, having himself endured lashings, rod beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, hunger, and constant danger. The steps Paul was recommending—rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving—were ones he had taken consistently in the toughest of circumstances.

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