I have no idea what’s going on in your life as you’re reading this. My prayer is that everything is fine. That you’re having the time of your life and serving the Lord.
Or, it could be the exact opposite. You could be heartbroken and in distress. While I certainly hope that isn’t the case, I know that there will be times in your life when you will be. That’s the way this life works. In either case, and in every case in between: be thankful.
That’s right: be thankful.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
So, are you in Christ Jesus? If you are, give thanks.
It’s easy to give thanks during the good times. Food on the table: “thank God”. Money in the bank- “thank God”. A roof over our heads- “thank God”.
But, are you giving thanks to God in every thing?
The people to whom the epistle of 1 Thessalonians was written had been suffering persecution (e.g. beatings, death, imprisonment, loss of property and safety, etc.) even as other Christians had (1 Thes. 2:14). Yet they were instructed to give thanks to God just a few chapters later. It was told to them that this was the “will of God”. To be less than thankful would mean they weren’t doing God’s will for their lives.
“How could God expect me to be thankful during this time in my life?” you ask.
Well, it’s simple really. There is always something to be thankful for. As the verse says, “in EVERY thing” be thankful. Start with your salvation. Are you saved? Thank God. Go from there.
“But what I’m going through is more than I can bear. How can I thank God for this thing?” you reply.
I don’t know what you’re going through at this moment. But I know that you can’t go wrong by thanking God for it.
In fact, when I read about figures in the Bible and throughout history who thanked God FOR (not in spite of) their trials, they were significantly blessed. Not always immediately or physically, and not always to their knowledge, but the rewards of their thankful hearts were revealed in time.
You can learn how to be thankful by following the examples of others.
Take Job. He lost EVERYTHING he had. Children, health, property, friends, dignity. I can’t point to a person (other than Christ) who suffered more than that man. Yet, throughout his trial, we never see him show anything but respect, reverence, and a thankful attitude towards God. At the end of the book, God richly blesses him- doubling all that he had before.
We read about Corrie Ten Boom and her sister during WWII. They tried to save the lives of others and then punished for their deeds. They moved from prison to a concentration camp to a death camp, witnessing the deaths of those they loved and cared for- and lived day and night in flea infested bunks that they shared with hundreds of other women. But you know what? They thanked God FOR the fleas. Later, they found out that, because of those fleas, they were able to share the Gospel and talk about the Bible with the other women. The Nazis who ran the camp had no desire to enter into their flea infested bunk, and therefore couldn’t stop them from spreading the hope the Bible offers.
A thankful attitude will bring you blessings.
You might not get to enjoy the immediate blessings of your thankful heart- and it might seem frustrating to maintain that attitude at times. But, you must do so. You will be blessed if you are thankful- if only because it keeps you from falling into sin that will make your situation worse.
Look at Romans 1:21. “…neither were they thankful…” What follows after is a lengthy list of attitudes, actions, and activities that will only serve to make your situation, whatever it is, worse. When something good happens in your life, give thanks to God for it. When something bad happens in your life, give thanks to God for it. Blaming others; reasoning the hows and the whys; anger and bitterness; these will only hurt you more.
As hard as it will be sometimes, thank God, and mean it.
We can’t know the hows and the whys to every situation. Like the fleas in the Ten Boom’s bunk, our most trying circumstances could be for a greater purpose. Or, we might simply be reaping something we’ve sown (I know you don’t want to hear that…). Either way, you can’t go wrong in being thankful- in fact, the consequences of not being so are too hard to bear.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.” Colossians 1:15