Give thanks in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
When Paul (one of Jesus’ close friends and disciples) wrote this letter to the Thessalonians he didn’t just advise them to give thanks in the good times. Thankfulness is an ‘all in’ attitude that counts for the grim times too. And we all know that life is full of ups and downs.
Even when there’s so much persecution? And poverty? And political conflict?
This verse disturbs many of us. It just doesn’t make sense how or why we should be thankful during these situations. Does that mean we’re encouraging or accepting them?
The Bible never tells us to give thanks for all circumstances. But rather that we should give thanks IN all circumstances.
So, what’s the difference?
Thousands of years ago, God blessed us all with the beautiful gift of free will. The sad truth is though, we don’t always use this gift the way God wanted to – with love. Times of despair do happen, and in those times, we can still decide to focus on the good.
If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s tough to be thankful for things when we’re drowning in troubled waters. Nothing matters except what we’re going through.
Have you ever read the story of the leprous men who meet Jesus on his way to Jerusalem? You can catch the full thing in Luke 17:11-19.
During his travels, Jesus came across 10 men who were suffering from leprosy, desperate for their health to be restored. But when Jesus heals them, only one comes back to give thanks. Sometimes we might be like the other 9. We get so caught up in getting what we want that we forget about God, who made it possible.
Most of us have a particular time to wake up, eat, work, or play—but what about setting some time aside to have a chat with God, and give thanks? We often set reminders on our phones as a helpful way to remember things when building a routine – why not set a reminder to thank God for one thing at the end of your day? Soon enough, it’ll become so natural. It’s also helpful keeping a journal (or a Book of Blessings as I like to call it) nearby to jot down things that we’re grateful for on a daily basis.
When we really think about it – in our joy or pain, loss or gain – there are always people, actions, words and places we can be thankful for, and ways we can express it. We could take time to admire God’s stunning creation by volunteering time at a lake clean-up, or call up our grandparents to do their grocery shopping and cook on a random evening. The possibilities are endless!
Let’s look beyond our circumstances, and find God – our hope, our light, our security.