“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 18, The Holy Bible (http://biblehub.com/1_thessalonians/5-18.htm).
Years ago I happened on a book (I forget how The Lord brought it to my attention) called “From Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/826607.Prison_to_Praise). Perhaps, as I recollect, someone may have told me about the book. I got the book and looked at the cover and wasn’t sure if this book had a radical enough message for me. I read on…and read on… To my surprise, the book was an autobiography about a man who had a difficult past, went to the military and talked about the various challenges that brought him to a prison. The book also talks about how the Lord Jesus came into his life and radically changed his life with the verse quoted above, “in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
The message of the book was a powerful anecdote and encouragement for our need as believers to obey The Lord with a heart of thanksgiving, in spite of the circumstances. As I read the book, I began to put the scripture to work immediately. I have to honestl admit that since that first reading, I have slipped on the “giving thanks in every circumstance”, mostly because I forgot that I am not thanking God FOR everything, but I should be thanking God IN every situation that occurs in my life. I forgot that “this is God’s will” that no matter what is occurring in my life, that means good things and what I think are terrible circumstances or difficult trials, my heart of gratitude toward God should not change – that should be constant. My thanks to God should never be altered by the temperature of life dilemmas.
Why should my thanks to God be constant in spite of the challenges of life? Because I know that God is good. Always God is good. I heard a preacher say this week on Christian radio, “God is good and we know that He is because He has said so”. That is true. Even Jesus reminds us of that in Mark 10:18, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone”, (also in Luke 18:19, The Holy Bible). The Bible declares in Psalm 86:5, “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help” (New Living Translation). So God is always good even when we feel or believe life is not good, fair, tolerable, or a number of things that can and will happen to us on this life’s journey. So we give thanks in every circumstance because God who is good promises to be with His children and to never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Holy Bible).
We can thank God in every circumstance, because He promises to bring good out of evil (Romans 8:28). I was reminded of that this week as I listened to the life of Job. You may have heard of him? A man who lost all of his children, wealth, possessions and health in two days (Read Chapters 1 and 2 of The Book of Job in the Holy Scriptures.) This is an incredible story of how The Lord allowed someone He loved to go through not only tragedy but unexplained pain, loss and grief in a matter ….48 hours. It was days before this man could even speak to his friends he was overwhelmed as the story goes. His friends after a time even turn on him, accusing him of committing some sin or angering God Almighty.
The story, however, does not end with all the evil that Job suffered. God begins to speak to Job as He speaks to us that what we may be going through might be difficult, painful and unexplained but He as God is Sovereign. He who made the world, the universe and all of humanity owes no one, not even those He loves any explanation. He does not answer our questions. Instead, He reminds us of His sovereignty. God reminds us He is Love. God reminds us that He is God and all powerful. God reminds us He is Creator. God reminds us that He can turn very ugly and devastating events into a purpose far greater than what we are currently facing. I know that to be true! I can look at several events in my life that after God calmed my raging seas, He brought about some good in my life or in the life of others. My relationship with Him grew. I am learning to appreciate the good things He gives. I am learning to trust Him in the hard places.
Giving thanks then is not just a “Thanksgiving Day” celebration then is it? I am so blessed to see another Thanksgiving Day. It is still one of my favorite holidays. A set aside day to worship God for all of His goodness toward me throughout the years. I am also now encouraged to practice giving thanks every day. It is a good thing to give thanks go God (Psalm 92:1). Not once a year, but every day because He is God and He is Good.