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A worshipful life: rejoice, pray, give thanks

June 10, 2023

Daily Scripture

1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

15 Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. 16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We often think gratitude is purely a feeling, a reaction to something outside of us. That makes “give thanks in every situation” puzzling, even irritating—too many situations simply do not trigger positive feelings. But psychology researcher Robert Emmons wrote, “It is vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful…. being grateful is a choice, a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives.” * Pastor Hamilton expressed the same truth when he wrote, “Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, put it this way: ‘It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy.’ This statement hints at the enormous power that gratitude offers for our lives. We’re not called to give thanks because everything in our lives is going wonderfully. We’re called to give thanks because our life itself is a wonderful gift from God.” **

  • A recurring theme in gratitude research is that choosing to be grateful does not mean you become blind to the bad things in life, or the sad or angry feelings you may have about them. It does mean, however, that we choose not to let the bad things blind us to the many things for which we are grateful. What way(s) have you found to remember the things for which you are grateful when your life takes a difficult turn? Scholar William Barclay wrote, “There is always something for which to give thanks; even on the darkest day there are blessings to count. We must remember that if we face the sun the shadows will fall behind us but if we turn our backs on the sun all the shadows will be in front.” *** As you reflect on gratitude’s benefits, are you more inclined to resist changing the direction your life faces, or to seek to increasingly “face the sun” through grateful worship?

O God, like the sun, you are always shining your love and mercy into my life, whatever happens in my family, my workplace or my health. Teach me how to keep my focus on you every day. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Jason Gant

Jason Gant

Jason Gant serves as the churchwide Resurrection Kids Lead Director.

My daughters are now 17 and 14 years old. Throughout their lives we have celebrated many milestones; birth, baptism, first day of kindergarten, receiving of their third grade Bibles, first theatrical performance in school, first time winning a volleyball game, getting a driver’s license, and many more. I can’t help but notice that when my wife and I reflect upon our daughter’s lives we focus on all these beautiful moments, rarely reflecting on the more difficult times. But when we talk through the day-to-day family business and activities, we tend to discuss the difficulties we are facing.

In 1 Samuel 7 we read about an “Ebenezer,” which was a ‘stone of help’ to honor and remember when God helped defeat the Philistines. A large stone is traditionally placed to mark such a moment—a milestone to honor God with gratitude. It occurs to me that the beautiful moments in our lives we celebrate and reflect upon offer strength for whatever difficulties we face for today. Looking back to remember and be grateful is what prepares us when challenges come.

My father-in-law just passed away unexpectedly. It has been very difficult on the family. We will celebrate his life next week, which will help us navigate the deep loss we feel. We will honor all the ways he put his family first. Leaning on his legacy of love and humility will bring healing in our grief. We will remember his love for Kentucky Wildcat basketball and the moment he joked —as my family moved to Olathe—that we were getting a little too close to Jayhawk country for his liking. His heart and care for his kids and grandkids will be the Ebenezer that defines his legacy.

I wonder how we can all grow more grateful reflecting on the good and beautiful moments in our lives. We know that life offers pain, loss, and difficulty, but what if we began every day giving thanks for just one milestone (or Ebenezer) from our lives that is good and beautiful to give us strength for the day. I’m certain that will be a ‘stone of help’ when we face difficulty.

Remembering when God has been with us reminds us that God is always with us!

I believe this will help us embody today’s Scriptural passage. May the Ebenezers of our lives give us strength to never repay wrong for wrong, but rather pursue good, rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks through every situation.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Robert Emmons, “How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times,” syndicated from Greater Good, Sep 12, 2013 at
** Hamilton, Adam. The Walk (pp. 31-32). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition, quoting David Steindl-Rast, “Want to be happy? Be grateful,” video, 14:19, June 2013, accessed August 5, 2019,
*** William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p. 207.