When we do not have all the answers, we must trust God. Giving thanks is the highest expression of our trust.

Although there are many thoughts in the Scriptures that are clearly expressed, our response to some of them is often confusion: “Could God mean what He says in this verse?”

One of the passages that falls into this cate­gory and often gets a puzzled response is 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It is evident in this verse that God intends for us to be thankful in all circumstances at all times.

That is a tough com­mand to obey.

“You mean God expects me to give thanks when I am on the verge of bankruptcy, when my marriage is shaky, when my job is a battlefield, when my reputation has been falsely tarnished by another?”

The biblical answer is yes – despite the obvious difficulty factor involved.

In everything give thanks. Every­thing means just what it says. It encompasses all relationships, all circum­stances, all adversities, all of life.

Throughout the Scrip­tures, thanksgiving is presented as the man­dated lifestyle of the believer. It is not optional or voluntary. There are no exceptions.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkind­ness in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night” (Psa. 92:1-2).

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name” (Psa. 100:4).

Thanksgiving should mark our participation in church. We come to fellowship with like-minded believers to express our gratitude to God for all He has done for us and for Who He is.

It should also permeate every relationship. Sons and daughters should be thankful for their parents – even if mom and dad do not measure up to their expectations.

Husbands should praise their wives, ver­bally complimenting and encouraging them. Wives should thank God for their husbands – even if their marriage is not ideal.

Employees should give thanks for their bosses – regardless of their behavior.

But here is the prob­lem. Sons and daugh­ters can be thankful for loving, gracious parents – but how about abu­sive, negligent parents?

Husbands can appre­ciate wives who lift them – but what about those who constantly nag and complain? Wives have little trouble expressing thanks for attentive, caring hus­bands – but what about those who abuse them?

Employees can give thanks for employers who reward their work with promotions and raises – but what about the boss who consistently undervalues their contribution?

Can we truly give thanks in such instan­ces? If we do, is it merely in a nominal sense without any real significance?

God meant exactly what He said through the hearts and pens of the writers of Scripture. It does not have any­thing to do with our feelings. None of us feel like giving thanks when the water pipes break or the car has a flat tire.

Neither does it have anything to do with what appears to be rational, human under­standing. What is rational about giving thanks when we dis­cover cocaine in our son or daughter’s room?

Giving thanks is a deliberate choice we make – based on God’s perfect wisdom. It is His will and purpose for us to give thanks in all things because He understands how an attitude of gratitude can influence our lives and the lives of those with whom we associate.

When we choose to give thanks to God in all circumstances, there is a powerful impact in every area of our Chris­tian lives.

Giving thanks keeps aware of God’s pres­ence. When we praise Him despite the obsta­cles, we understand that we are not alone, that our problems are His as well as ours.

By thanking God in our rough seasons, we heighten our sense of His redemptive involve­ment in our trials. We have help; we have His presence. We can take our troubles to Him and share our burdens with Him. He is there to listen, comfort, and strengthen us.

When we give thanks, we are moti­vated to discover God’s purpose in our prob­lems.

God may quickly reveal what His purpose is for your circumstance. But He may not reveal His purposes for months or years.

The significance in giving thanks is that you know that God can work out His plan – regardless of the evil intentions or actions of others. Nothing can thwart His purpose for you. Giving thanks positions you to receive the fullest extent of His blessings.

When we give thanks in all things, our will is bent to His. We learn to submit our expectations to His plan.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

How many times have we prayed, “Lord, I will do whatever You want me to – if You will just show me Your will”?

Giving thanks is God’s will. Thus, we are demonstrating our faith in God’s Word – our confidence in His good­ness and wisdom. Our wills begin to mesh with His, and our attitudes change.

When we give thanks in all things, we are reminded of our com­plete dependence upon Jesus Christ: “Lord, I thank You in this situa­tion. I thank You that I am so helpless in all of this that You are my only hope. Lord, You alone can rescue me.”

We are dependent on God for every breath and step we take. He is the Creator, and we are His creatures – made in His image. If He does not sustain us and the universe He made, everything will disinte­grate.

Our thanksgiving rec­ognizes and affirms His sovereignty over every area of our lives. He holds our times in His hands, and our successes and failures are intricately woven into His master plan.

When we give thanks in all things, our trust in God is strengthened. Trusting God is most difficult when we do not understand the reasons for our pain or affliction.

When we do not have all the answers, we must trust God. Giving thanks is the highest expression of our trust.

We stand firmly in our faith, knowing that God has not and will not change. He will hear us and help us – in His time. Meanwhile our loyalty and commitment are underscored by our thanksgiving.

When all is light and sweetness, trust is easy. When the lights go out and the world turns sour, trust is the evidence of our devotion to Christ.

Giving thanks to God in all things is essential to rejoicing. Paul not only told the Thessa­lonians to give thanks in all things but to “rejoice always” (1 Thes. 5:16).

How can we rejoice if we are not grateful? Can we celebrate our faith in God’s goodness if we do not give thanks to the Father?

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thanksgiving nurtures it and stimulates its radiant activity.

When we give thanks in all things, we impact our Christian witness in a positive manner. Your friends watch you go through hardship, and they are amazed at your level of trust and joy.

They say, “You know, I don’t know how you can endure such a prob­lem. If I had to deal with your situation, I would probably be on drugs or alcohol. I just don’t think I could cope. What sustains you?”

What a marvelous opportunity for you to share your faith in a lov­ing, powerful, wise God. Your faith is tested and proven, and others know it.

Then when their lives are plunged into despair, who do you think they will come to for help? They will come to the man or woman who persevered through hardships while main­taining their confidence in God.

Our lives are de­signed to bring glory to God in all things, and when we give thanks in everything, we bring Him glory in a special way. He is exalted, not our tale of woe.

We give thanks in all things because it focuses our attention on God, not our circum­stances. It is easy to dwell on our problems. We spend all day think­ing or talking about them. When someone sees us, they exclaim:

“Have you heard about the problem he has?”

By thanking God in the midst of our dilemma, the faithful­ness and power and per­son of Christ become the center of attention.

If we major on the problem, the problem grows. If we major on the ability of God to help us and keep us, the problem diminishes. It does not go away, but the greatness of God is highlighted – and that overshadows our trou­ble.

That is why Paul could write:

“For momentary, light afflic­tion is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

What Paul meant was that – when compared against the background of God’s eternal glory and provision for His saints – our suffering is indeed minimal. By focusing on God’s unceasing care, we can endure our momentary problems.

When they are weighed against eterni­ty’s blessings, our pain is not so great; our prob­lem is not so menacing; our heartache is not so devastating. God has prepared more wonder­ful things for us than we can possibly imagine.

Thanksgiving somehow renews “the inner man.” Our external problems may be overwhelming. They may produce great strain and pressure on our emotions. But when we give thanks, some­how God restores our inner self.

Thanksgiving refreshes the soul in the harshest of circumstances. There is a divine energy which is released that enables us to keep on going, keep on trusting, keep on hoping.

It is a transforming process. The more we give thanks, the more Christ-like we become – the more radiant our witness and personality become.

We may want out of our problem; we may want to escape. We may try to complain and argue with God, becom­ing bitter and resentful.

All of these alterna­tives are dead ends. They are profitless.

But if today you begin to thank God in every circumstance, you will discover new power and hope as a believer. Your circumstances may not change, but you will be transformed. Your joy will increase; your love will flow; your inner strength will flourish.

Give thanks in all things and watch God work.

Dr. Charles F. Stanley

 

One Thought on “Giving Thanks in Everything”

  • This was such an encouraging article to read! While reading this article I noticed that it immediately motivated me to thank God for so many things in my life, including for the times of uncertainty and loneliness. Thank you for posting this!

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