"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything gives thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
This portion of scripture, brief and to the point, is familiar to most of us. It may easily roll off the tongue, but anyone who has suffered knows the difficulty of living it out.
Most of us will pause this week to give thanks. We will gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving day and take a few moments to count our blessings. We have so much to be thankful for. However, it’s doubtful many will mention the times of suffering and trial among their blessings.
How is it God calls us to give thanks despite our circumstances? How can we be expected to be grateful for hard times? The answer may be found in one little word - in.
We are not told to give thanks “for” everything; we are told to give thanks “in” everything. That one word makes a big difference. We aren’t expected to be thankful FOR the bad things that happen - the deep sorrow and times of suffering. Yet it can feel nearly as impossible to be thankful IN the middle of those times.
If we can step back for a moment and remember God’s goodness and great love for us, we will understand how it’s possible to be grateful IN everything. Whatever we are going through, we know that God has promised He will never forsake us. He will never leave us alone. He has also promised to work things together for our good. It may not look the way we had imagined, but when we look back we will know He did indeed keep His promise.
With a bit of perspective, we can see that the times we grew most in faith and drew closer to the Lord were during those times of trial. God delights to give us the desire of our hearts, but uppermost on His heart is making us more like Jesus. In the long run that is where we find true joy.
We rejoice. We pray. We give thanks IN everything, and trust the One who loves us unconditionally that all will be well.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving, dear friends.