We all know it is easy to “give thanks” when life circumstances are rosy and cozy. It’s not so easy, however, to give thanks when times are tough. But God’s word is crystal clear. The people of God must give thanks in ALL circumstances.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is a remarkable statement. Why? Because we know there are times when the circumstances of life are not all that great. Consider the following:
- A recent cancer diagnosis
- Lingering effects of Covid-19
- Conflict within your family
- Your own battle with sin
- A house fire that destroyed much of your belongings
- Job termination
- Injuries related to a car accident
- School struggles
- Persecution for your Christian faith
This is where plenty of people are at right now. Life is hard, and in some cases, people can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. And yet, this biblical exhortation remains – give thanks in any and every circumstance. That’s what God’s will for your life is. Now, if we are going to apply this command to our lives, then there are a few things we need to keep in mind.
First, God’s Word never promises that the Christian life will be a bed of roses. Quite the opposite. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation (John 16:33). We live in this fallen, sinful world that is under the rule of Satan. It would be naïve of us to think we should be able to glide through life with ease and comfort. One day we will rest in our heavenly home (Hebrews 4:11, 1 John 3:2), but in the meantime, we must fight (Jude 3, Ephesians 6:10-13), and navigate the trials of life.
Second, God gives us grace in the midst of pain and suffering (James 4:6). Never forget that our God is “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3), and is more than able to comfort us in all our afflictions. The Lord Jesus is able to supply a peace which surpasses all understanding in your pain (Philippians 4:7). No matter what you are going through, God is able to care for you and meet your need.
Third, consider all that you have to be thankful for. Think of all the material blessings you enjoy. And most importantly, if you are a Christian, then God has saved you by his grace. Through the sacrifice of Christ, he has forgiven you of all your sin (Romans 5:8). God has made you a partaker of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and has given you an inheritance that cannot be taken away (1 Peter 1:4). No matter what you go through in life, you can celebrate the goodness of God on your behalf.
Fourth, rest assured that God uses our struggles and suffering for good. James 1:2-4 gives us a picture of what that looks like. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
When your faith is tested, it only serves to make you stronger. God is working steadfastness and endurance into your life so that you can be closer to Him and be equipped to “extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). So don’t despair, fellow Christian. God see’s the big picture of your life, and is working to present you “holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22).
This Thanksgiving, give thanks in ALL circumstances. Trust in the sovereign purposes of your Savior, and remember that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17).