I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (The Message)
It’s been a bit frustrating as I’ve grown older to lose some of my sense of smell. I particularly notice it when it comes to sweeter more subtle fragrances – like perfume on Donna or food cooking. Likewise my hearing isn’t what it used to be (what an understatement) and I miss things – though in the middle of the night, it’s not so bad. Praise God for hearing aids. They do wonders. When people speak softly, I can push a button and the volume increases.
I think these physical phenomena are similar to how we live each day and how we respond to what goes on around us. We have deficiencies and God wants to fix them. These verses talk about being cheerful; praying all the time and being thankful. This is how God intends us to live. This is being normal. God’s plan is for these attributes to become second nature to us; they are to become who we are. Unfortunately, they can be diminished just like my sense of smell and hearing are.
The verses go further – we are to be cheerful no matter what! We are to be thankful no matter what happens! We are to pray through it all – meaning that our focus is upon the Lord. There is to be constancy in our lives that is reflective of the wonder of our God and His goodness that overrides everything – no matter what! But it’s easier to be cheerful and thankful when things are going well than when they aren’t.
How often do we hear of a close friend who has died; or that someone very dear to us is unexpectedly having surgery for cancer; or that a contentious situation unexpectedly arises that has to be dealt with by those close to us; – and this is all on top of the stuff we are already dealing with. This is part of life.
Fortunately, God has made gratefulness and focusing upon Him to be like an artesian spring within Donna and me – they are always there, flowing. They’ve become normal. The wonder and blessing of their genuineness never ceases to amaze us. We experience the joy that comes from the utter confidence that we and those we love are not helpless or alone; that we have a God who adores us! Through tears and pain, the joy and gratitude are there. All of these difficult situations just cause us to embrace Him all the more – they push us into Him. We don’t have to understand – we have Him.