(1 Thessalonians 5:18) “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
For a long time in my Christian life, this verse was more of a burden than a blessing. I believed this verse was a commandment to be thankful for everything that happened to me. If I had a tire blow out on a busy freeway, I was to be thankful for the shredded tire and the opportunity to risk my life putting on the new one. If I lost my job, I was to be thankful for the loss. If I came down with a deadly disease, I was to be thankful for the sickness. If someone close to me died, I was to be thankful for their departure. But one day something changed my thinking about this verse and revolutionized my life.
There is a difference between the word “In” and the word “For.” Many Christians, including myself, live as though this verse began with the word “For.” We get focused on the circumstances going on around us and try to be thankful for those circumstances. We get frustrated as hardships pile on us and we feel as though God is bringing these things on us to teach us a lesson on how to be thankful for anything that may happen. Many times the result is resentment and bitterness against God. After all, what kind of loving God would bring so much grief to His children? But praise the Lord He doesn’t tell us to be thankful “for” everything! The preposition “in” is primarily defined as “denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state).” This means God doesn’t want me to focus on my circumstances as a basis for my thankfulness. He wants me to be thankful through my circumstances! In spite of what life may throw my way, my thankfulness is based on something bigger than the problems and trials and hardships. When I hear the doctor say the dreaded “C” word, He is faithful to be there for me whatever the outcome. When I suffer the loss of someone that tears my heart to shreds, He is faithful to be there to bring me through the grief and every promise in His Word continues to be true. When I find myself in an economic situation that causes me to wonder how I will survive the week, He is faithful to comfort my heart and calm my fears. He is the focus, He is the center, He is the source of the solution in every situation. We learn to grow in grace by looking to God and God alone. This is what allows us to be thankful “in” everything.
As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving today as our forefathers did when they first came to this continent, many of us are hurting. Many lost their jobs. Some don’t have a home. Some are working through the devastation of a divorce. Some are far away in a land fighting for our freedom. Regardless of where we are or what has hurt us, God is faithful. He promises to be there for us whether we acknowledge we need Him or not. He is standing by for you in your situation ready to wrap you in His love and comfort your grieving heart.
This is the love that allowed Job to say, “blessed be the name of the LORD” after he lost everything including his children. (Job 1:21)
This is the love that allowed David to say, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)
This is the love that Paul experienced in the midst of a hurricane yet he sat down to eat and “gave thanks to God in the presence of them all.”
Use this opportunity of thanks giving to be a day of “thanks living.” Cry out in your heart to the Lord and praise Him for Who He is. Look for an opportunity to be a blessing to someone in need. This is the privilege of giving thanks “in” everything.
Renewed Thought – When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we see our inability to live this Christian life. We see the possibility of God living it through us. The Spirit-filled life in realization of His grace produces a life of thankfulness. (Ephesians 5:18-20)