Dr. John LeProhon
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,
It is important to note that Paul did not say “Give thanks for everything.” In other words, Paul did not say, “Give thanks for that paper cut, because that is the will of God for you.” Or “Give thanks for the fact that a 23-year-old soldier was killed by an IED in Afghanistan,” or “give thanks for the vicious murder of 58 people at a concert.” Paul was not saying, “Give thanks for the evil things that people do or for the tragic effects that come from living in a sin cursed world.” Nor was Paul saying, “Look on the bright side and give thanks, because things could have been worse.” Or “Look for the silver lining.” It is much deeper than that. Paul said, “In everything give thanks…” That is, in the midst of the tragedy – give thanks. In the uncertainty – give thanks. In the pain – give thanks. Thanksgiving is an important characteristic of the Christian (See 2 Cor 9:11-12; Phil 4:6; Col 3:16, 4:2; 1 Tim 2:1).
So, how does a Christian give thanks in everything? Being thankful in all things can only truly happen when the object of your focus is on the person and work of God. When you, by faith, recognize that God is good, just, perfect, all powerful, all loving, and that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28), then you can give thanks in all things because God has become the object of your focus – not the trouble.
You can give thanks because you know that God always does what is best for us and that which brings Him glory. You can give thanks that you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). You can give thanks because you can cry out to Him because the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Rom. 8:26). You can give thanks in all things because nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39). You can give thanks in all things because you have been told to ask anything in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14).
Giving thanks in all things is only possible when you have correct theology, when you have a proper understanding of who God is. If you doubt God’s power, wisdom, or love – you will not be able to give thanks in all things, because you will only see your circumstances through your very limited understanding. But when you put your trust completely in God – you learn to be content regardless of the circumstances.
To give thanks in all things does not mean that you never pray for healing, relief, or for a change of circumstance – it means that you trust God however He chooses to answer your prayer. It means that you thank God that He has a perfect plan that will lead to your sanctification and His glory – even if He chooses a path you or I would never choose. To give thanks in everything is to keep your focus on God and not on the circumstances.
Give thanks in everything because this is the will of God. Give thanks to God because He is in control and His love and His plans are always perfect because He is perfect. Let your heart be captivated by the God of your faith and not by the uncertainty of your circumstances.