“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17)
The above scripture is one of those passages that we learn early on in our Christian life. Most of us apply the “thankful thing” when we get a little disappointed when our vacation doesn’t work out. We say something like, “well God knows best and all things work together”. I must admit, that’s not a bad thing.
But what about those times when our life falls apart? It might be that we lose our job, or experience a debilitating illness, or even worse, what if we lose a loved one in death? Do we really have a thankful heart in those situations?
This scripture is not suggesting that we jump up and down with thanks because we have a life-changing loss, but the passage is teaching us to apply the supernatural element of giving thanks to our loss. God wants us to see Him in the midst of our circumstances.
There are least four reasons we should give thanks in all our situations.
Giving thanks in all situations is what we do as committed followers of Jesus.
Part of our spiritual DNA is to trust God in all things. Even when we can’t understand or comprehend why this is happening to us, our duty is to give thanks to God because He can see the big picture. Our God is sovereign and in control, and He is up to something when things happen to us that we cannot control. Note the following verse:
“For our light affliction and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen (our current situation), but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Giving thanks in all situations is an act of faith.
Our faith is measured by our level of trust. It is trust that enacts the supernatural element of God’s grace. He wants us to be so dependent upon Him that whatever happens we immediately run to Him and draw on His grace to help us through the crisis. Jesus wants to be our rest, our peace, and our “present help in the time of trouble”.
Giving thanks in all things causes us to focus on our blessings rather than our loss.
I think one of the reasons we take loss so hard is that we are so centered on what has been taken away from us, that we miss the joy of our present blessings. Each of us has been blessed in immeasurable ways. By reflecting on God’s goodness we are able to see clearly that we are a recipient of God grace, mercy and blessing. We then move from a sense of loss to a sense of God’s overwhelming love. It’s then that we can cast our burden on Him.
Giving thanks in all things causes us to live with Heaven in mind.
When it comes down to it, this life is preparation for eternity. As a committed follower of Jesus, we are not of this world. Matter of fact, the scripture teaches us that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. A stranger is not familiar with the territory; he has no desire to get attached to this world. A pilgrim is one who is just passing through to another destination.
I have often heard the phrase, “He is so heavenly minded he is no earthly good”. This is usually a reference to someone who is serious about his walk with God, most of the time it’s not a compliment. I think the opposite is true; when “you are so earthly minded you are no heavenly good”. The more we learn to trust God in all things, the greater the upward pull toward heaven.
When things are falling apart it is difficult to stay focused and calm. The pain is real, and sometimes the suffering seems unfair. But as committed followers of Christ our response in every situation is to “give thanks in all things”. It’s what we do because we trust God not only for our salvation but we also trust Him for every situation that life throws at us. Rest assured that our trials and disappointments is our cue to give thanks in all things.
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace that passes all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7)