By JOHNNA PRATHER, CONTRIBUTOR
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) There’s a good chance you’ve heard this verse used many times. But have you ever stopped to actually think about what it means? Be joyful. Pray. Give thanks. Always. Always? Even in the face of stress? Of sickness? Of death? When things like this come up, it is easy for many of us, myself included, to forget what “always” means.
As we’ve watched Malori Maddox fight for her life, I’ve noticed one thing: she and her family have taught me what “always” means. From the night of her collapse and first surgery, they have been faithful in their prayers and craved prayers from anyone and everyone else. Throughout the month since Malori’s diagnosis with AVM, I have witnessed what it means to pray continually. The family has shared their prayers with the public, asking others to pray along with them. When they found an alarm on Malori’s phone that reminds her to pray every night at 10:45, they encouraged everyone keeping up with Mal’s story to talk to God at that time as well.
If you know Malori, you know her smile. I don’t know if there has ever been a time when I’ve been around Mal without seeing her smile or hearing her laugh. She is the definition of a joyful person, and the past month does not seem to have changed that about her. We’ve seen her smile in multiple pictures, showing the true meaning of being joyful “always” or “in all circumstances.” I know this journey has not been easy for her, but her joyful spirit has prevailed through all the trials.
The third part of this verse refers to thankfulness. Most of us were raised in homes where we were trained to be thankful for everything. But are we actually thankful for everything? Have you ever thanked God for being sick? I can’t think of a time I’ve done that. I know Malori’s parents probably wish this wouldn’t have happened to their daughter, but I’ve seen their desire to be thankful for what this journey has brought them. God is working through Malori, her situation, and her family, and I know with certainty how thankful each one of them are for that.
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” It is God’s will that we learn what “always” means. Thank God for his faithfulness and for his power seen in Malori Maddox.