Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
I heard a saying recently; I’m not sure who said it, but it goes something like this: “If I only had tomorrow what I thanked God for today, what would my world look like?” I immediately began to think of all the things I was thankful for, but later as I thought more about it, I realized I’d missed the mark. As Christians we need to be thankful for everything, but most importantly, for our relationship with God. First and foremost God should always top the list in the Christian’s life when it comes to being thankful. Sometimes we take for granted those we love the most. How many times when someone we love passes away do we say, “I wish I’d spent more time with them”? Or how often have you heard a parent say, “I worked so hard when my kids were growing up; I wish I’d spent more time doing things with them”? It isn’t that you didn’t love them; it was perhaps the thought “I will do it tomorrow.” The only problem is …. tomorrow is always tomorrow. It is God’s will for us to live thankful as stated in the above verse, but let us evaluate what that looks like for the Christian. It is easy for us to give thanks in good situations but what about in difficult times? We are, according to the will of God, to be thankful in…. every…. circumstance/situation/in everything.
In Good Times:
It is easy to be thankful when things are going good. When the sea parts, and you are able to escape the approaching army by walking to safety on dry ground. When the harvest is plentiful and the barns are full. When you are healthy and experiencing life without apparent conflict. When life in general is just good, good, good. In these times we express, and rightly so, “God has been so very good to us and we are thankful.”
In Difficult Times:
Ok, it might not be quite as easy here, but we are still able to give thanks. Things are not going so well, but we are able to endure, for we can see light at the end of the tunnel. I’m always thankful when I can see, in life’s difficult situations, that it will only be a season. I may express thankfulness for what I see coming, more than my present circumstance. However, is God any less good and worthy of thanksgiving in this time than in the good times? Not if I believe you give thanks to God in the middle of every circumstance.
In Dark Times:
This is where life is overwhelming, and there is no end in sight of the present circumstance or situation. In the book of Job, you can see this type of reality, as almost everything for which one would be thankful was taken away from him in one day. Then in days that followed, after the loss of all earthly blessings, he lost his health. One can see Job’s true heart when he was requested to curse God and die (Job 2:9) and this was his reply, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:10b ESV
Please understand that sometimes we give thanks not necessarily for the circumstances of life, but we give thanks to God in the midst of every circumstance. To be able to give thanks to God in the midst of every circumstance is to give testimony that your faith is in God and not in your position, or circumstances experienced in life. I have heard the statement, “Life is not fair.” Let me ask the question, “Fair for you or for God?” If life was fair Jesus would not have died on the cross for our sins. Fair would be that we pay the consequence for our own sin, not Jesus. The person who believes that life should be fair, is a person the devil will be able to easily sidetrack with a bad circumstance. I told my children when they were growing up, “You cannot always choose what life deals to you, but you can choose how you are going to deal with it.” Years ago when I experienced my heart attack, a nurse came in and said to me, “It’s not fair.” I asked, “What’s not fair?” She said, “You’re active, not overweight, yet you had a heart attack and have diabetes.” To which I replied with a smile, “Welcome to life.” By the way, how the Lord took care of me with a wife and four children at home over the days and weeks that followed was amazing. Not easy but amazing. Let me encourage you to practice this next week being THANKFUL TO GOD IN CHRIST JESUS before you give thanks for anything else. Don’t focus on any circumstance, be it good or bad, but only on God. Give thanks to him for his greatness, mercy, grace, salvation, and many, many more attributes. Do this and experience the joy that comes from living thankful to God. I hope you have an awesome Giving of Thanks this week.
Because of His Grace ~Pastor David