~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18~
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Can I be honest with you? For me, those above verses are some of the HARDEST in the bible. They're the hardest because of those words I highlighted and bolded. Those verses tell me I'm supposed to ALWAYS rejoice (or praise God) and ALWAYS give thanks, no matter what is going on in my life. What? How?
It Seems Impossible
How do I praise Him in those times when I feel alone, or angry or sad? How do I praise Him and give thanks to Him in the midst of a storm, when all I know to do during a storm is run for cover? I WANT to praise Him. I know it's good and needed and refreshing. I WANT to delight in Him. But how, when your in a place of despair, do you rejoice? How are you supposed to be thankful when all you want to do is break down, cry your heart out and run for it?
I suppose if you're a "good" Christian, you "just give it to Jesus". I've been directed that way many times by Christians that either don't want to give their time or don't know what else to say. You know how I know it's one of those two things? Because, when I ask them how to do that, the answer is always, "You just do. Pray about it." "Just give it to Jesus" is the Christianeze cure all. It gets you out of being involved in what a Christian brother or sister is going through. Ftr, I'm fully aware giving our problems and sorrows to Jesus is biblical, but it isn't meant to be used to brush the hurting away. It's meant to provide hope.
But I digress, how do we praise and give thanks in everything, especially when we don't "feel" it or everything in our heart cries out hurt. I know first hand the difficulty in praising and being thankful in the midst of despair. So what do we do? Or rather, what do I do?
Run For It!!!
When the storm comes it's natural and necessary to run for refuge and cover. So in our daily life, when the storm is laying waste to us, with full force, don't try to be Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump. We're not meant to "weather the storm". Ultimately we're fragile and dependent on Him, so run to Him for refuge. Psalm 91:9 & 10 say,
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
That's not saying storms will never come. On the contrary, if there were no storms, we wouldn't need refuge. And I know that's just as abstract an idea as "just give it to Jesus". Here's what I've found taking refuge in Him looks like to me (I'm certain I'm not the only one either). We take refuge in Him by taking refuge in the truth of His Word. Since Jesus is The Word, when you take refuge in the truth of His Word, you're taking refuge in Him. For me, that means verbalizing scriptural truths about who He is. Things that remind me He IS love, He IS good, He is FOR me, He will NEVER leave or forsake me. Even when I am not able or don't feel it would be genuine for me to lift up a "joyful" heart, I can get in His word and recite some very specific truths about Him. I think that pleases Him. When our heart feels alone and desperate for relief, simply calling out those truths can bring comfort and prepares the way for God to make His presence known and comfort you. I love the way the AMP translation addresses Job 22:21. It says, 21 Acquaint now yourself with Him [agree with God and show yourself to be conformed to His will] and be at peace; by that [you shall prosper and great] good shall come to you. We acquaint ourselves with Him by knowing what His Word declares
Here's a couple verses I typically declare: