“Give thanks in all circumstances…”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
At the end of Paul’s letter to the believers in Thessalonica, we come across this very short, but very powerful, command:
Give thanks in all circumstances.
It’s easy to give thanks to God when things are going well in our lives. When there’s money in the bank account, when the family is healthy, when the job is going well, when all our prayers are being answered and our dream is coming true and we can feel and know God’s presence on a daily basis, it’s almost second nature to give thanks.
But when things are going bad? When there isn’t enough money to pay the bills and the family isn’t healthy and the job is difficult and it seems that God is ignoring you?
It’s not so easy to give thanks then.
But maybe the reason Paul challenges us to give thanks in all circumstances, to thank God no matter what is going on in our lives, is that he knew something deep down that we don’t fully believe.
Paul knew at the very core of his being that God was ultimately in control of every circumstance that happened to him – whether good or bad. When he saw peoples’ hearts changed and begin to follow God, he knew it was a gift from God. When he was able to speak before thousands and start churches and see people healed and set free and reaching their potential in Christ…he saw it all as a gift.
And when found himself locked away in prison for his faith, when he was shipwrecked on his way to do what he believed God wanted him to do, when he was persecuted, laughed at, mocked, tormented, went without food, rejected by those who should have accepted him…he knew that was a gift, too.
Because Paul believed that God worked everything, everything out for the good of those who love Him. He knew that God uses the trials, the hardships, the difficulties and struggles and desert experiences to develop something deep within us. He knew that when trouble comes, we cling to God more. And he trusted that God knew what the struggles would produce in us…and that if God allowed the struggle, the outcome would be better if we didn’t have the struggle at all.
And so, my brothers and sisters, as you sit around the Thanksgiving table this week, may you find yourself truly giving thanks to God. May you not limit your thanks to Him based on the good He has brought into your life. And may you, as you find the courage to thank Him for the trials, begin to see that He truly does work everything together for your ultimate good.