impossible instructions?

Paul encouraged a church almost 2000 years ago to "always rejoice" and to "pray without ceasing".  He also told them to "give thanks always" no matter what the circumstances were.  This, Paul said, was God’s will for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

I’m trying this week to figure out if these are practical instructions.  What I’m wondering is whether anyone can truly ever "always rejoice"… or if it is even possible to "pray without ceasing"… or if life absolutely stinks (and I mean absolutely is repulsively horrible) whether it is thinkable to "give thanks always."

Are these instructions from Paul just pleasant phrases… like "keep your chin up" or "keep on truckin"?  Or do you think that people can actually live these out?  If so, how?

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