Daily Devotion: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing..." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17. I don't believe God makes things happen in order to teach us something or to make a point. You might be hearing religious leaders saying stuff like that. I don't believe in a God that hurts us in order to help us. I do believe in a God who knows what it is to suffer because Jesus chose to suffer in order to fully know and love us. Because God suffers with us, I have strength in the midst of suffering, sometimes, even, enough strength to have hope. (Though not always). When I read Thessalonians, I don't hear God rapping the table with a ruler like an etiquette teacher, telling us we'd better plaster on a smile through all things. We don't need to pretend to be happy when we're not. But I do hear an invitation to have hope, maybe even enough hope that we can find something worth rejoicing over. Maybe that's why the next line is about praying all the time: in prayer we are more mindfully connected to the God who is always with us, always loving us, always promising new life and possibilities beyond our present. Freed from fear of sin, rejection, and death, we can rejoice in the glimpses of beauty, love, and generosity around us. What is it you are rejoicing in today?