by Sharmon Coleman, ProvenWay Executive Director
Naps. Coffee. A purring cat in my lap. These are things for which I’m thankful. Traffic. Uncooperative technology. Calories. These are things for which I am NOT thankful. So what am I supposed to do with 1 Thessalonians 5:18 if I want to live out His word in my life? “In EVERY thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I’m no theologian, but that verse needs no interpretation. It’s clear that God wants me to give thanks for the things for which I am grateful, AND for the things that drive me nuts!
Why on earth is it God’s will for us to give thanks in EVERY thing? I pitched that question to God and sat on it awhile. “Sovereignty” is the word He brought to mind. If I truly believe that God is El Elyon, God Most High, but I don’t think He can control every detail of my life, I have a cracked theology. He is either God of All or Not at All.
So, how do I become thankful for the hard things in my life? I do it by acknowledging His sovereignty, goodness and love toward me in ALL circumstances. God is good when He’s acting in my life in ways that are comfortable and pleasing to me. And, God is still good when I don’t understand or like what He’s either doing or allowing in my life.
How do I live out giving thanks when it’s easy? Remember to THANK HIM for His goodness. Be like the one leper out of the ten healed that returned to Jesus to thank Him for healing him of leprosy.
How do I live out giving thanks when it’s excruciatingly difficult? I think of Corrie Ten Boom who spoke on her time in a Nazi concentration camp where she lived in crowded, unsanitary conditions. In their hushed times of worship at the end of long, hungry days, Corrie remembered 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Her group proceeded to thank God for their flea infested, filthy, cramped living conditions because that’s what God says to do in His word. It was an act of obedience and trust. Years later, she met one of her guards and discovered that the reason they didn’t interrupt their worship services was BECAUSE of the fleas and filth. Huh. Only God!
So, when you’re stuck in traffic and might miss your daughter’s university graduation in spite of leaving early enough to arrive on time, speak out thanksgiving. Thank Him when your car’s window is smashed and your brand new laptop is stolen while enjoying a celebration dinner after a women’s conference for His women that took months of planning and hours upon hours of work. Give thanks when your dad is diagnosed with cancer right when you are moving states away.
Truly, God is in control, and He is good. Our job is to give thanks in all things. His job is to bring good from every circumstance in our life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we KNOW that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Not all things are good, but He works all things for good. Beloved, whatever is going on in your life, bend your knee, acknowledge His sovereign goodness and love, and thank Him for what He’s working in your life. There’s a reason it’s called a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).