Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–19

Life is hard. Being a Christian in the first century, with the Romans and everyone else looking down at you as if you were part of some bizarre religious sect, must have been very difficult. There are some Christians who believe that somehow life should get easier because of faith, but the apostle Paul knew that fidelity to Jesus had a way of placing even heavier burdens on people. Christians didn’t cut corners. Christians didn’t fight back when challenged. Christians shared what they had and what they earned with people who were in need. Walking the path of Jesus could be a very hard road indeed.

Paul believed that a little hardship is well worth the deepening relationship between ourselves and the Lord. The key is not getting hung up on that hardship. Be joyful in all situations. Pray through all the challenges you face. Be grateful for every experience that comes your way. That is God’s will for you—not that everything will always work out well, but that you welcome and embrace every moment of every day. That is living with the Spirit! Life comes at you, and you go with it . . . with gratitude and good cheer.

Does hardship stop you in your tracks?

Lord, I would like my life to be peaceful and happy and blessed. I would prefer to avoid the hardships of life. However, when I think about it, it is in times of hardship that I find myself clinging most closely to You. If I long with my whole being to be more closely knit to You, I should probably welcome moments of challenge as opportunities for You and me to work more closely together. The next time a challenge comes my way, help me to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks for a new opportunity to deepen our relationship. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.