We have this tendency as human beings to focus so much on one thing that we miss the bigger picture. At least I do. I’m not talking about blocking out distractions. Distractions make us lose our focus, and they need to be blocked out. However, just as with anything else in life, we have to find a balance.
Here’s what got me thinking about this today. My theme verse for this Thanksgiving season has been 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
For some reason, focusing on that verse today was not setting as well with me as I thought it should. So I started conversing with God about it, and as a result I felt Him urge me to read the chapter again. As I did, I started thinking about the end of this verse that has been my focus, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
“What is the this that is God’s will for me?” I heard God put that question in my head. I’ve assumed without much thought that it was to give thanks in everything. Yet, as my eyes were again drawn to the verses leading up to my key verse, I realized I was missing a bigger picture. The this actually includes so much more! The beginning of the sentence actually starts in verse 16 (and the beginning of the paragraph listing everything originates all the way back in verse 12). So I actually have a rather long list of things that I’m to do in order to find the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning me. But let’s look just look at the sentence that starts in verse 16.
pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Let’s be real; being thankful in everything is tough. It requires concentrated effort. Yet it’s not all that is required of me this Thanksgiving season. I cannot exempt myself from all of the other expectations because I’m working to fulfill the tall order of giving thanks in everything.
I must not forget to rejoice always. There’s not a holiday devoted to “Rejoicegiving,” nor is there a “Pray Without Ceasing” holiday weekend (complete with Black Friday madness). These two intentional acts are my responsibility every day of the year, no matter what.
I don’t know about you, but this is not a natural way of doing things for me. I much prefer to look at the one verse that so conveniently fits into the holiday spirit, but if I ignore the context, I’m missing a much bigger blessing.
So, on this Thanksgiving week, I encourage you to not only have a grateful heart, but one that is doing it while continually rejoicing and without taking a break from praying.