Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thinks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thes. 5:16-18 ESV
Some passages of scripture make more sense if you read the phrases from ending to beginning. The phrase “rejoice always,” can seem like Pollyanna advice until you read the last phrase, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
The will of God is the starting place for our response to all of life’s events—the bright ones and the dark ones—but it is especially important during these dark days. What is God’s will for you during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Most believers want to know the know the will of God, but fewer want to follow the will of God. Discovering the will of God is a waste of time unless it is accompanied by a commitment to follow it regardless of whether it aligns with known self-interests.
We can rejoice always—even now, because we know it is God’s will for us. We rejoice that God is in control. We rejoice that this pandemic, like all other pandemics, will have an ending. We rejoice that if even the worst that can happen, does happen that there is hope beyond the grave.
We can pray without ceasing when we know it is God’s will. Instead of just watching the news we can pray the news. When our President or another political leader is featured in a story, we pray for our governing authorities to have wisdom. When we are viewing refrigerated trailers being filled with pandemic victims, we pray for their families.
When we wash our hands for 20 seconds, we don’t just sing happy birthday; instead, we pray for heath care workers who are on the front lines. When we hear an ambulance go by, we pause and pray for our first responders. Twice a day, at 7:14 in the morning and evening we pray that God will hear our prayers and heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14). At 3:16 in the afternoon we remember that God loves the world, and we pray for those who have yet to respond to the gospel.
When you get on one another’s nerves in your home, you pause and thank God for your family and for extra grace. When you are tempted to worry, you pray.
We can give thanks in everything when we know it is God’s will. Please don’t misread the previous sentence. I’m not saying that the present suffering is God’s will. I’m saying a thankful heart is. Even when we cannot give thanks for everything, we can give thanks in everything.
I was asked to write an article on managing conflict during the safer-at-home mandate, which is what I’ve attempted to do. Following God’s will and being a rejoicing, praying, thankful person will inform how you respond to conflict caused by others, and will keep you from spreading it around.
Please, be safer while you are at home. Love and care for one another. Rejoice. Pray. Be thankful.