“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV))
There are certain situations in life where we don’t find ourselves automatically expressing feelings of thanks. Situations such as: receiving a phone call from the doctor to inform you they have found a lump in your breast. Or having someone you love removed from your life because of death.
However, that is not what this verse is saying. This Bible verse is sometimes misconstrued. It doesn’t say to give thanks for all situations, but IN all situations–big difference.
In the days and weeks following my sons’ death, I had people quote this scripture and remind me that I should be thankful. How does a person find the ability to be joyful, pray continually and be thankful in every situation?
It’s easy to rejoice when the news is good. When life is going the way we planned, joyful emotions can flow from us without a second thought. But in seasons of loss, our faith can be tested. Giving thanks can seem like an impossible task. Sometimes faith is simply hanging on in the dark – hanging onto our hope in Jesus until God illuminates the way. To hang on, it requires a concentrated effort to redirect our thoughts in such a way that we can think on things that fill us with a heart of gratitude. While we may not be “thankful” for the diagnosis of cancer or the unexpected death, we can be thankful that Jesus is with us in the middle our pain and heartache.
As believers, when we seek God in prayer and through His Word, we are reminded of His attributes. We are reminded of His complete love and faithfulness to us. In the process of reminding ourselves of God’s attributes, we can be drawn back into a living fellowship and intimate communion with Him.
This is the part for which we can always give “thanks”. The simple fact is that everything that comes into our lives has been filtered through the hands of a loving and faithful God.
When we know Jesus, we can find joy in stressful times and even rejoice when your life is filled with sorrow. Because as believers our joy is not based on circumstances, but in God. Circumstances change in the blink of an eye, but God never does.
God honors our expressions of faith when we say ‘thank you” through tearful eyes and broken hearts. When we trust Him, He can turn our tragedies into a triumph for the Kingdom – this is His will.
Lord, thank you for Your faithfulness to me and Your patience with me. Thank you that You are in control. No matter how much my heart breaks, no matter how much the ground underneath me shakes, you are a reliable. You are sovereign and you will never leave me. For this I can rejoice and be thankful. Amen
My Hope Endures,
Director, Ephraim Ministries