Always, constantly, no matter what - three "timeless" commands. Always gives absolutely no room for "sometimes". Constantly gives no space for "once in a while". No matter what includes the good and the bad. In none of these words is there any implied "if I feel like it", or "maybe if the circumstances are just right". In fact, there is little "wiggle room" at all - celebration, giving thanks and prayer are to be continual, unending, and "non-circumstance-based".
Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 VOICE)
Celebrate always. Ever notice how easy it is to celebrate the home run that brings three other runners into home base, securing the "win" for the team? There is a whole lot of revelry when this happens. On the other hand, we don't see the same level of enthusiastic encouragement and "celebration" when the fly ball is caught and the third out is proclaimed! Didn't all the players play as hard as they could? Didn't every swing and miss count? Didn't every advancement of base make a difference? It is kind of amazing to me that we only see our "wins" in life "worth" celebrating when they are perfect! The command to us today is to celebrate always - even if we don't always hit a home run.
Pray constantly. As I've said on more than one occasion, I am not the kind of person who prayers on their knees. I am not knocking it if you are, but my knee surgeries have made that pretty much an impossibility for me, so I walk and pray, sit and pray, drive and pray, and even garden and pray. I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way to pray. It is just time talking with God and if the connection is being made - it is all good! When we think of the instruction to pray "constantly", it doesn't mean with each waking breath we are uttering some word of prayer. Instead, it means there is no variation in our "practice of prayer" - we make it a regular and consistent part of our lives.
Give thanks no matter what. Most of the time we struggle with the "no matter what" part of this instruction because "no matter what" can involve some pretty ugly and not so welcomed stuff in our lives. It doesn't mean we thank God "for" the ugly stuff, but "in" the ugly stuff. We don't thank him "for" the cancer, but "in" his keeping power to walk through the fight against it! No matter what isn't conditional - it is not based on the situation at hand. It is based on the first two commands being an agreed upon practice in our lives - Celebrate always and Pray constantly. When these two are operational in our lives with consistency, the giving thanks no matter what part is a whole lot easier! Just sayin!