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Thankfulness As Our Purpose

As the calendar winds down on another unprecedented year, we gladly enter this joyful season of giving and thanksgiving. Renewed hope begins to blossom. We open our hearts to new possibilities. And for many of us, we feel a gentle nudge toward understanding God’s call to purposeful daily life.

Have you ever asked God about His will for your life?

I have. I’ve often prayed, “God, tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.” Although our circumstances vary, in Scripture God thankfully reveals His will for us as Christ-followers. And what He wants us “to do” starts with how we interact with Him.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has led me to sit with Him and explore 1 Thessalonians. Paul wrote this letter to a beloved church he established, and he saturates his message with thanksgiving, hope, and encouragement for believers persevering in trials. As I enter a time of transition and uncertainty in my life, Paul’s admonition brings comfort and new insight. This text includes one of my favorite Bible passages which has taken on new meaning as the Spirit highlights and unfolds His truth about thankfulness. As Christians, God desires that we live out thankfulness as a way of life. God wants us to understand and embrace thankfulness as an integral component of our daily purpose. Here’s what Scripture says about God’s will for us:

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). 

This is God’s will for you. Paul’s three directives weave together and establish a blueprint as he instructs us to do these things within the context of “all circumstances.” This provides a pattern for purposeful daily living:

  • Express joy in all circumstances
  • Continually and honestly talk with God in all circumstances
  • Offer thanksgiving to God as worship in all circumstances

Understanding thankfulness as our purpose in all circumstances has two aspects––our part and God’s part. No matter what circumstances we face, no matter what trials we’re enduring right now, if we’re standing with Christ we’re right where God wants us to be. And we can flourish in all circumstances as we press into Jesus, allow God to do His part, and join with Him through our part. Let’s unpack this blueprint for purposeful daily living.

First: Be joyful. When we dig deeper into what it means to “be joyful,” we learn that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). We cannot fabricate joy or create a joyful spirit. Joy grows like fruit on a vine. When the vine remains connected to the main branch, the branch provides life-giving water and nutrients to the vine so fruit can develop, grow, and ripen. In life, Jesus is the branch and we are the vine. God’s part is to grow the fruit of joy in our life by the power of His Spirit. Our part is to remain connected to Jesus through time in His Word and prayer, and to allow the Spirit to cultivate joy in our heart and mind. The fruit of joy nourishes your soul and provides the gift of hope to you and to others. Ask God to grow the fruit of joy in your life. Open your heart and mind to true joy and allow Jesus to live in and through you by the power of His Spirit. This is God’s will for you.

Second: Pray continually. Prayer aligns us with Jesus as we openly communicate with the King of kings, Lord of Lords––the sovereign God of the universe. God’s love and grace empower us through loving relationship as we intimately communicate with Him. We share our hopes, fears, disappointments, and struggles. We receive wisdom, instruction, comfort, and encouragement. God’s desire for our daily life includes meaningful dialogue where we speak and listen––in all circumstances. God’s part includes responding and lovingly welcoming us every time we approach His throne of grace. Our part is to go to Him regularly and repeatedly. You can connect with God through the practice of mindfulness throughout the day. Or you can set an hourly reminder to turn to Him in prayer. Or you can create a rhythm of prayer at a certain time to start and end the day, with a mid-day check-in. Demonstrate your love and trust for God through prayer. This is God’s will for you.

Third: Give thanks in all circumstances. Paul instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. We live in a fallen world, and all of us at some time or another will experience trials, disappointments, pain, opposition, physical illness, and death of loved ones. God does not ask us to be thankful for our circumstances. Rather, He asks us to make an offering of thanksgiving in worship to Him. In difficult times, our offering may feel like true sacrifice. Thankfully we a Savior who truly understands suffering. Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, so that we can enter into eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father. God’s part is to receive our offering of thanksgiving, and to bring comfort as He pours out His presence, love, goodness, and assurance of His faithfulness. Our part is to offer––whether joyfully or sacrificially––our thankfulness for His faithful love, grace, forgiveness, and provision. Praise God in worship, give thanks regardless of circumstances, and see how God’s grace and hope minister to you. This is God’s will for you.

Friends, God desires to bless us with intimate fellowship with Jesus, daily sustenance cultivated by the Holy Spirit, and the power of His presence experienced through worship in the midst of every circumstance. Create a healthy spiritual rhythm and commit to living it out daily in all circumstances. Focus on: intentional openness to the Spirit’s joy; prayer as a non-negotiable priority; and sacrificial thankfulness as an act of worship. As we invite God into all our circumstances and deepen our relationship with Him, we begin to experience more and more what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). And thankfulness unlocks the door to deeper understanding of our daily purpose.

God, what do you want us to do? “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. This is My will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Happy daily thanksgiving!

Dr. Joy Dahl is a Jesus girl transformed by God’s grace. Through many trials she has learned to rise above the depths of real life by holding fast to truth and hope. Today Joy passionately helps believers embrace their calling as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. As a CPA and a Chief Financial Officer by trade, Joy has focused most of her career on start-up and high-growth companies in Washington DC, New York, and Texas. Joy earned three degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary: Master of Christian Education, Master of Biblical Studies, and Doctor of Ministry. Her emphasis on the integration of faith and work led to her current role as Executive Director of Polished Network, which gathers women to navigate the workplace and explore faith together in authentic community. Joy is the visionary behind the BOLDLY Conference (www.boldlyconference.com)––the first-of-it’s kind Faith + Work for Women Conference. Joy and her husband, Gordon, call Dallas home. Joy’s favorite things include: God’s Word, international travel, dark chocolate, horses, flowers, beach getaways, running, big dogs, and adventure!

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