“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Now, in common with a lot of people, Paul was in the habit of putting the things that he thought were most important at the beginning of his lists. In this case, the emphasis is on the instruction to “Rejoice always”. One of the reasons that I think that this is the case, is that joy seems to have been a particularly important idea to Paul, and one that he valued very highly in the church at Thessalonica. In the very first paragraph of the letter, he wrote, “… you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers… ”1:6-7.
Now, I have to say that this is an instruction that I struggle with. How can I rejoice always when the world is in such a mess? How can I rejoice always when people that I love are ill or in pain? How can I rejoice always when people are losing their jobs and are afraid that they will lose their homes? Isn’t it just insensitive and unrealistic?