Runners hit the wall when the store of glycogen runs out of their muscles, so that their body shuts down, the pace slows down and the legs feel like iron. To avoid hitting the wall, runners try to replenish their glycogen with different energy gels as they run. Spiritually, people hit the wall when they know the good they ought to do but lack the strength to do it. In order to fulfill the difficult work to “admonish the idle, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak,” we must continually replenish our spiritual energy by abiding in Christ and abounding in His Spirit.
How? First, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16). When we rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4), then we can rejoice even in our sufferings because we “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2–3). We rejoice because we know that through suffering, we have the hope of more of God’s glory to be released through that suffering. We rejoice because God grows us through suffering.
Also, we must “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). Such prayer is modelled by Paul in his constant prayer for others (e.g. 1 Thess. 1:2; Rom 1:9–10; Eph 1:16; Col. 1:9). We learn to pray constantly when we care deeply for others and bring them before our God continually. When we pray continually, our hearts are consistently concerned for the lives of those we love, and we lift them up before the Lord. As we lift them up, then the life of Christ flows into their lives.
Third, we must “give thanks in all circumstances” (1Thess. 5:18). Here again Paul models this as he gives thanks always for those he prays for (1:2–3). As he prays, he sees the fruit of God’s work in their lives and gives thanks to God. He does not give thanks because of the absence of problems; even in the model church of Thessalonica, he addresses issues of sexual immorality and idleness. Similarly, when we care for people, we see their inadequacies so clearly. Nevertheless, we “give thanks in all circumstances,” because of God’s work in them.
Why? “This is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (5:18). God’s will is that we might be in Christ Jesus. When we are in Christ Jesus, then the life of Christ might abound through our lives. As we “rejoice always, pray continually, [and] give thanks in all circumstances”, then the life of Christ flows through us to replenish our spiritual energies. Christ’s life in us then enables us to love one another. Let us abound in Christ with joy, prayer and thanksgiving each day.