“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.’ I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”

Sunday Scripture ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

According to the Apostle Paul, gratitude is more than a pumpkin-spice-feeling. It is a matter of obedience to the will of God.

Author and poet Wendell Berry put words into the mouth of a fictional, elderly widow named Hannah Coulter who, in addition to being a crackerjack farmhand when needed and probably making a great pie crust, also had a clear handle on her biblical theology:

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this:
‘Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.’
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.” (Hannah Coulter, page 113)

In this season of gratitude and pumpkin lattes, I will be focusing on those “right instructions,” knowing full well that I, too, am “not all the way capable of so much.” And yet this business of obedience to the Spirit of God is not to be confused with Operation Bootstrap. It is, rather, an operation by which, “the very God of peace will sanctify me wholly” through purposeful rejoicing in what is given and a prayer life that images the inhale and exhale of breathing.

Rolling into the month of November, whether your greatest challenge is deciding between pumpkin and apple pie** on the day of the feast–or whether God is choosing this season to grow you through adversity, let’s return to the words of Paul in the way we turn to our recipe for fool-proof gravy, knowing that even though we are not “all the way capable,” the instructions are good, for they are absolutely true, and they are given to us with love:

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Giving thanks,

Michele Morin

**P.S.  My advice:  Go for a small slice of each.


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Hannah Coulter, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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53 thoughts on “Sunday Scripture ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18”

  1. My aunt Doris used to cut a half a piece of each. She was only eating one piece of pie and got to enjoy a little of both! (Yeah, I like to eat!) I started listing 10 things I am thankful for as part of my devotions. (Food shows up on the list more than I care to admit. LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele – this has just gotta be the best line ever –.’And yet this business of obedience to the Spirit of God is not to be confused with Operation Bootstrap.’

    Amen! And once we start living gratefully, it soon becomes the air we breathe.

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  3. I love that mention of Operation Bootstrap. It’s the opposite of how we raise kids to eventually not need to rely on us, to be able to stand on their own two feet. Spiritually, we mature as we become ever more dependent on Him.

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  4. Thank you Michelle for your encouraging post! I know I need to revisit 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 regularly and it is especially fitting as we approach Thanksgiving. Blessings, Joy

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  5. Yes, we all have the right instructions, don’t we? I’m not all the way capable either, but I will keep trying. Thanks for this sweet reminder! (I always choose pumpkin pie! 😉 )

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  6. I just re-read your post and realized how much I love Hannah’s words, “I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”

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  7. Your post makes me think the month of November and the celebration of Thanksgiving was by no means an accident. It is in God’s plan to remind us of those words you share. Rejoice for who we are…because He made us. I am guilty of sometimes wishing for difference. Love how her quote is perfect as a reminder of who I am. Blessed, Chosen, Forgiven, Child of God. ~hugs~ for a great week ahead. 🙂

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  8. Oh, I am much more of an apple pie girl than a pumpkin pie one. No deliberations are necessary for me! I love your concept of “purposeful rejoicing”. The verse from 1 Thessalonians is one of the most joyous in the Bible, in my opinion.

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  9. This is one of my favorite posts from you. You lead me straight to the heart of Jesus, while reminding me who I am and what God wants for me (and from me.)
    (**And I’m with you on the pie!)

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  10. Michele, I read this on Sunday and meant to get back and comment. I continue to make a book list of ones I have not read, but you know how that goes…so many books, so little time. Thank you for your post, it was most encouraging and I tried to like it but that option didn’t work.

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  11. What a great quote and verse! I need to read another Wendell Berry book, I tell so many people about Jayber Crow. Also, your advice is spot on 🙂 Happy (almost, but always) thanksgiving!

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  12. This also makes me think of the verse in Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep/guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
    God bless!

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  13. Hannah is so right. We must not wish for the life of another. Not only does it make us unhappy and dissatisfied, it causes us to envy. I am reading an interesting book about envy by Tilly Dillehey, Seeing Green: Don’t Let Envy Color Your Joy. She talks about rejoicing to combat envy. I love your metaphors, Michele.

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