Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4:6-7, NLT
In the verse above, the Apostle Paul challenges us to be anxious for nothing. Instead, we are to pray and give thanks. It’s easy to express our thanks to God on the heels of a victory or after receiving a miraculous breakthrough. But we will see that we are called to do this in the midst of our struggles, as well.
At the time when Paul wrote this to the Philippian Church, he was in prison and facing a very uncertain future. Yet, he looked beyond his immediate situation and did not dwell on bad, potential outcomes. His letter reflects his deep joy and attitude of rejoicing.
Just two verses before calling us to vocalize our gratefulness, he commands us to always rejoice. By telling us to “always” rejoice, this implies ongoing or habitual rejoicing. Then, to drive home his point, he immediately repeats the command, “Again I say rejoice.” He shows us that even in the middle of our pain, we can choose joy and praise God.
I don’t believe Paul is asking us to drum up insincere gratitude. I think he is challenging us to give thanks where we should, even in the midst of whatever current struggle we are going through.
I have found that there is always something to celebrate. Even during some of the most difficult trials I have faced, there have also been things I’m thankful for. And meditating on those and voicing my gratitude to God helps transform my perspective and recalibrate my mind.
An overload of negative or stressful thoughts can create a general sense of impending doom. But when I choose to state my gratefulness to God instead of focusing on a negative feeling, I often experience the weight begin to lift.