In First Thessalonians 5:18 we are told to “give thanks in all circumstances”. This may be somewhat difficult to do, but many of us think we’re doing God’s will in this regard if we can think of anything, even just one thing, to be thankful for in the midst of a particularly trying time in our lives. But we must also remember that in Ephesians 5:20, Paul puts a different emphasis on giving thanks when he tells us that we must give thanks “always and for everything”. It’s fairly easy to thank God for our health, family, job, home, and food, but what things do we neglect to thank him for because it’s so hard to see the value in them in the midst of the pain, discomfort, or embarrassment they provide? For example, when’s the last time you thanked God for…
- Those days when your children seem to be determined to put on a 24 hour-long exhibition of their depravity.
- Standing in a long line at the grocery store with the slowest checker at the helm.
- That nagging pain in your back that just won’t go away no matter how many times you go to the chiropractor.
- Your hour-long commute in city traffic.
- Tripping over what seems to be nothing in front of a group of your peers.
- Your ultra-critical boss who wants to micromanage every detail of your workday.
- The three final exams you have stacked back-to-back in one morning.
- Misplacing your car keys when you have to be somewhere important.
- A broken family that pulls you in multiple directions during the holidays.
- The love handles that have proven to be a permanent fixture on your body.
- That Christian brother or sister who says-it-like-it-is and often exposes your sinful heart.
- Not being able to afford_________________________ (the bigger house, the car repairs, the good coffee, etc.)
- Your singleness and the lack of godly candidates for marriage.
- Your non-Christian spouse.
- Your 5,500th diaper to change.
- The medical diagnosis that completely altered your life.
Though some of these things don’t feel good, and the rest of them are just plain devastating, God uses them as finely-crafted tools to chisel us into the image of his Son (Romans 8:28-29). Praise be to God… there is perfect purpose in every circumstance we forget (or refuse) to thank him for.