It’s easy to be thankful when there’s money in my wallet, food in my belly, and friends by my side. Our hearts tell a different story when terrorism is in the news, immorality is in our faces, and sickness invades our families. When the Bible tells us to be thankful in “all” circumstances—it includes both scenarios.
It’s not hard to make a list of things we’re not thankful for—cancer, broken relationships, anxiety, hate, and sin, to name a few—but the Bible doesn’t instruct us to make that list. It instructs us to be thankful all the time.
- “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- “…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father…” (Ephesians 5:20)
- “in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
- “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
The word that chokes me in these verses is “everything.” Everything? Even in that list of things I’m not happy about? Evidently so. If Paul, who was bound in a dungeon because of his faith in Jesus could be moved by the Holy Spirit to say give thanks in all circumstances, maybe we should listen.
Could you be thankful if you were sold into slavery and then falsely imprisoned? If not, you wouldn’t be thankful for how God used Joseph to reunite his family and save many from starvation.
Would you be thankful for a judge who didn’t care about justice and knowingly condemned an innocent man while letting a terrorist go free? If not, you wouldn’t be thankful for the way God arranged our salvation.
Scripture isn’t telling us that we should be happy about pain and suffering, but instead that we trust God enough to be thankful during pain and suffering. You never know what he might be up to!