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Rejoicing, Praying and Giving Thanks

In my daily scripture reading one day I was excited to be reminded of the message of the apostle Paul to the Church (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). My mind went back to 1979, when I was a fairly new Christian. A friend taught me what was known then as a ‘chorus’, from a Christian ministry called ‘Scripture in Song’. The words were then embedded in my memory, like an advertising jingle once heard on TV and always remembered, ‘Rejoice. Always pray. Constantly give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’.

It is challenging for me to think of constantly giving thanks in all circumstances. It goes against all my natural tendencies. Perhaps more than ever before in the last three months I have got somewhat closer to the instruction to ‘Always pray’. I have done my best, as the prayer list gets longer and longer, and in Lockdown, with our calendar events cancelled, Paul and I have certainly had the opportunity to pray together at a set time each morning.

During a time of quite severe illness, I was studying scriptures about having peace in difficult circumstances. Then, after the pandemic descended upon us, it seemed that everyone was turning to these scriptures. I have found this Lockdown to be an emotional roller coaster, with many tears, of both sadness and joy.

I received the news that my sister had cancer and only had a short time to live. There wasn’t much I could do for her except to write her a letter to say goodbye and to remind her of the promises Jesus gave us in John Chapter 14. The words of a special hymn came to me, ‘O My Saviour Lifted from the Earth for Me’. There was just enough time for my nephew to read it aloud to her in the hospital and for her to give a big nod of the head, her only means of responding. Her funeral took place by livestream. It was too far for me to travel to the funeral because of restrictions in place at the time.

The Lord reminded me, in my daily Bible reading, that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope and that, as believers, we will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4). My sister’s death was blessed by the Lord and she told her family she was feeling strangely happy, much loved and looking forward to the next big adventure. At this time J.John shared some words on Twitter, which greatly helped me, “Don’t think about how stressed out you are, but about how blessed you are."

I realised there are many blessings in my life, but I was not focussing on them. I needed to change my focus and consciously live in the present, not dwelling on the past.

Prayer: Loving, heavenly Father, please help me to focus on what is true, honourable, just pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. Help me to always rejoice in You and to be continually giving thanks in all the circumstances I find myself in. I need Your help to do this, but I want to obey You and do the things that please You. I need strength to make choices that please You, especially in standing firm against all attacks of the enemy against my mind. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
 

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Scripture

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

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Today's Writer

Liz Griffin lived for 20 years as an expatriate in South Africa, Bahrain and Japan, as her husband Paul worked for an international oil company. Paul and Liz became involved with Ellel Ministries in 1991 as part of the ministry team and joined the full-time team at Ellel Grange in 1995. Paul and Liz teach and minister to those seeking healing in their lives and together have written two books, 'Anger - How Do You Handle It' and 'Hope and Healing For The Abused'.

Liz Griffin


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