It’s the dead of winter, the coldest time of the year. My back is aching. A pandemic is raging. Nerves are frayed. Patience has collapsed in a heap of ruin. And it’s the best time to praise God. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s the best time to lay aside our troubles and worries, and praise our Creator.
Praising God in good times, for good times, is easy. Praising God in hard times requires more afore thought—more raw determination. Perhaps it’s the best measure of our faith.
The apostle Paul challenges us with this admonition: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, NIV).*
My Bible breaks the statement above into four separate verses and then tosses “Do not quench the Spirit” into an entirely new paragraph. But in the original Greek, there are no verse numbers, or indented paragraphs. These four statements all flowed together as one.
The Spirit’s fire is stoked or quenched by our rejoicing, our prayer and our thanksgiving. None of these responses—our rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving—should be driven by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our circumstances may vary, but God’s love for us is constant.
Paul and Silas perfectly illustrated the presence of God’s Spirit in their lives, as they prayed and sang hymns after being severely flogged and imprisoned in Philippi. See Acts 16:16-40. Did their circumstances inhibit their rejoicing? Apparently not. They refused to quench the Spirit’s fire. Instead, they stoked it.
Is your fire going out? Can you still find some glowing embers among the ashes? Then take some action. Add some fuel. Throw on a few splinters of rejoicing. Log on some prayer time. Top it all with some heartfelt thanksgiving.
In the dead of winter, at the coldest time of year, in defiance of a pandemic, let’s build the warmest fire.
* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA
David Kitz is the chair of The Word Guild. His most recent book series is Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer.