The phrase “give thanks” was penned by the apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Thessalonian Church. He wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And in verse 16 of the same chapter, he exhorted the believers to, “Rejoice evermore.” The apostle stated that rejoicing is one of the chief duties and privileges of the Christian.
Paul’s spirit of joy was best presented in the book of Philippians, whose key word was “rejoice.” There, he stressed the decision to be happy and give thanks saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4 also 3:1). He repeated his exhortation, as if to stop all objections about the impracticability of rejoicing in difficult situations. The truth is when Paul wrote the book of Philippians he was in prison, forsaken, alone, and in peril of immediate death. Nevertheless, he had learned to rejoice in whatever he may be called upon to bear (Philippians 4:11).
Rejoicing in All Things
Rejoicing is possible simply because the Lord is always the same (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). His love, His care and His power, are the same in times of hardship as in times of success. Christ’s ability to give comfort to the mind does not depend on outer circumstances. Therefore, the mind that is centered on Him can continually rejoice.
God made it possible to give thanks in all things by His grace. For He has freed us from the power of sin and Satan. He has made us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). And He has saved us “to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). The true Christian can always rejoice in God’s forgiveness from the debt of sin, in the Lord’s peace that fills his heart, in God’s promises for victory, in divine favor, and in the redemption of his loved ones (Hebrews 12:2). These are more than enough reasons to help him rejoice and be happy always.
Paul wrote: “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). The apostle had every reason to be sad. He led a very harsh life; however, he knew how to be glad during difficulties and persecution. He rejoiced in God’s providential leading. And this attitude should be the attitude of every believer (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:4, 11; Hebrews 2:10–18). Hence, Christianity not only comforts the believer in the hour of trial but gives the spirit of joyful victory and fills the heart with assurance and courage (Isaiah 61:3).
The Christian is called to rejoice and give thanks even in adversity (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2). For “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Daniel gave thanks even when he knew of the king’s decree to take away his life (Daniel 6:10). Likewise, Paul himself left a striking example of being thankful under the most adverse circumstances (Acts 27:20, 35).
God is concerned with the whole life of His people. But He has especial concern for their mental health. He wishes them to be happy, prayerful and thankful. Thus, our failure to give thanks represents a failure to fulfill His good will. He who wants to find God’s will for his life should examine the life of Jesus and see the ultimate illustration of what God intends the believer to be like. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus gave thanks to His Father (Matthew 26:27) and even “sung a hymn” (verse 30). Nowhere will there be found a more perfect model of happiness, and gratitude than in the life of Jesus Christ.
In His service,