As a general rule we are taught to avoid superlatives. Who hasn't been bitten in the back side by saying I'm never going to (fill in the blank) again!? I catch myself saying things like It always happens like that... When we use superlatives - it means there is no room for any alternatives. Using always and never in particular doesn't leave any wriggle room, no exceptions allowed. But Paul seemed to like superlatives and in 1 Thessalonians 5 he didn't leave the believer any wriggle room when he penned:
Pray without Ceasing
In everything give thanks
Test all things - hold fast what is good
Abstain from every form of evil
When we look at it that way- it's quite the bill to fill. There were no exclusionary statements for any of these instructions. Notice Paul didn't say "in everything give thanks unless your situation is particularly trying or difficult." He didn't instruct the believers to "rejoice always unless you are a caregiver who just can't find joy in the day." He wrote these as instructions to believers in the Body of Christ. He gave no exceptions, no leeway - just do it - always.
I'll be the first to tell you that there are days it is difficult to find something to rejoice about, or to be thankful for. But usually, if we look hard enough - we can find something. Even though each of our situations are unique and we have our own set of daily trials to walk through we can heed and obey Paul's instructions here. We probably get close to praying without ceasing; but the other rules can be very difficult.
The caregiver's situation is a stressful one, and can take a toll on the mind, body and spirit after awhile. It might take some serious effort to accomplish these tasks. But they really just make sense for living life - no matter what that looks like. While we may not be thankful for our situation - we can find something to be thankful for - we are still breathing, we have food on the table, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. I've learned that sometimes it's the littlest things that bring joy to the heart. We can give in to the joy of a child's laughter, a beautiful song, a special message from a friend, or having the time to sit down and breathe for a minute or two. If we give in - it doesn't take much.
When we take the broader look at where we are there are many reasons to rejoice. God sent His word to heal us. He has not left us - and is available for us - constantly by our side. The power of the cross is not weakened by our trying circumstances and the word did not change when we became a caregiver. His word endures forever - even through the battles life brings. God is with us and He's in it for the long haul.
Today I will meditate on the things I can be thankful for. Even if I can't see the "light at the end of the tunnel" I will keep my eyes open and watching for reasons to rejoice in Him today. Will you join me?
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