What if I were to tell you that I know what God’s will is for your life? Sound a little iffy?
Actually, I do. I can tell you that it’s God’s will for you to be thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
That’s pretty clear. And I didn’t say it, God did.
So what does it mean to give thanks in all circumstances? We’ve heard sermons on how this doesn’t mean we are thankful FOR all circumstances, we just have to be thankful IN them. But really, what is the difference? No, we don’t have to say, “Thank you, God,” for cancer or for tragic accidents, but we can still say, “Thank you, God,” that we don’t walk through any of it alone. We can be thankful for what God will teach us as we walk through.
No, we don’t have to like what is happening, but we can still find something to be thankful for. In God’s economy, nothing is wasted, so each life circumstance has some sort of value in eternity. We might never guess what that value is as we are during a terrible situation, but God knows the value and must have decided it was worth it, or he would never have allowed it in the first place.
As I watched my mother die of cancer over an 18-month period, I had a hard time being thankful. But at her funeral, my father came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Was it worth it? I think if I could ask my mother today, as she sits at the Lord’s feet, she would say it was absolutely worth it.
How do you stay thankful when you are watching a loved one die an agonizing death? Or when a friend has lost a child? Or when a marriage has disintegrated beyond repair? God could have prevented those tragedies and yet, He allowed them. How can we be thankful?
We are thankful that God is still good. We are thankful that God is still a loving God. We are thankful that God walks with us through every step of every journey he calls us to. Life is difficult. We can easily forget to look for the things to be thankful for.
In her book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight, Jennifer Rothschild talks about how she lost her sight at 15 and how she’s learned to be thankful for her life in the 30 years since that time. She says, “I genuinely thank God for what I do have, because it’s so much greater than what I’ve lost.”
And, Dietrich Bonhoeffer perhaps summed it all up the best when he said,” Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.”
Life is bittersweet at times, and we must never allow ourselves to hang on to the bitter at the expense of the sweet. Thank God today for where you are, because He is right there with you. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Be thankful for the morning!
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13 (CSB)