Devotional: ‘The Times That Try Men’s Souls’


As I begin writing this devotional, I have just finished answering several emails. In almost every situation there was some element of suffering. As I corresponded with the various individuals, a quote came to my mind, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine wrote that as the opening line of a series of articles entitled, The Crisis. The crisis he wrote of involved our nation’s decision concerning whether or not they should enter into a war with England. Many of you reading today’s devotional are facing various kinds of crises and therefore these are the times that are trying your soul.

Near the end of his letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul gave a series of short, yet powerful admonitions to Christians who were suffering. Let’s consider some of them.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Be Joyful Always

The King James uses the word ‘rejoice.’ Spiritual rejoicing is much different than human happiness. Human happiness often depends upon our current circumstances, while spiritual joy depends upon our confidence in the Lord. Even during times when we can’t be happy, we can be joyful through our confidence in Christ.

Pray Continually

The King James says to pray without ceasing. Though we may not be able to be in prayer every moment of every day, we can always be in a spirit of prayer. One of the keys to surviving a difficult season is to always be in prayer.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

Much like the command to always be joyful, giving thanks in every circumstance seems strange and abnormal. How can we give thanks in every situation?

We should note that Paul tells us to give thanks ‘in’ all circumstances, and not necessarily ‘for’ all circumstances. What is the difference? Paul is not encouraging us to be thankful for sickness or sorrow. Instead he is telling us to be thankful during times of sickness and sorrow. For what should we be thankful?

1) We can be thankful that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us.

2) We can be thankful that He is able to accomplish something good out of every situation.

3) We can be thankful that even though there is weeping tonight, joy is coming in the morning.


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