“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
When things are good it is easy to give thanks. Events are happening the way we expect and there are few bumps in the road. Unfortunately we often fail to maintain awareness of the blessing because we take it all for granted and forget to praise the Lord for the good He has done. We seldom ponder the “what if’s” , the calamities He has delivered us from as we go through our days.
We live in an ungrateful world. We complain and fail to see how bad it could be if there was no God. When the bad things happen we blame God and ask why He allowed things that interrupt our plans. This is especially true of people who don’t know God, people who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They want the protection of God without faith in Him.
In the passage above, we are instructed to give thanks in every circumstance. This is an impossibility for those outside of Christ, and extremely difficult for those in Him.
Many of us walk in this faith with the idea that nothing bad is going to happen. In reality, anything can happen. Believers are the enemy of Satan and his kingdom is of this world.
When I walked the aisle on Easter Sunday 1998, I had no clue that I was now a target, a fleshly representative of Jesus. My life up to that point had been full of trials indeed, but when I surrendered to conviction of the Holy Spirit and turned to Jesus to forgive my sins, it was as if the entirety of hell was opened up on my life. Satan could not hit God, but he could hit me.
Bad work situations, lost friendships and lots of internal spiritual remodeling left me reeling. Health issues were delivered to knock me on my butt. “Why?” , I cried.
In the midst of the struggle I began to see a pattern. The Lord was dealing with sinful strongholds in my life. All this was easier to see in retrospect. Looking back I understood what God was doing, I slowly began to trust. I could also see the fruit beginning to bud in my life. I learned a lot in that situation, especially that God had me in His hand. He is not a God caught unawares.
I learned to give thanks through the pain. I could see me through His eyes and as I was refined and brought closer to God my sin became more apparent. The Lord has much to work on.
Sometimes we have things in our lives that occur and we can’t possibly understand the “why” , much less give thanks. We lose loved ones to illness, accident, or worst of all, violence. How can we give thanks for that?
For me it is a matter of trust. I know that we live in a fallen world corrupted by the sin of man. I also know that God has provided a solution in His Son Jesus. In the fullness of time all pain will be done away with, Jesus will reign.
I also trust that He sees the end from the beginning. Just as I could not see the effects of the trials I endured as I was in the midst of them, I can trust that God has a purpose. Admittedly some of the purposes may never be revealed to us on this side of Heaven, but we can trust Him in the here and now.
I find that thanksgiving is an ongoing process for me. I am thankful for the big things and the small. In illness, I am thankful for being made well. I am thankful for endurance.
If you are in a trial, give thanks and trust in Him. Cling to God.