“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Those were the words Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica. He did not say that they were to give thanks “for” everything, but “in” everything. There is a difference.
To give thanks in everything is to acknowledge that God is sovereign over the matters in our lives, and that he is able to bring good from bad. Paul said pretty much the same thing when he wrote to the Roman church, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to his purpose.”
Notice that Paul does that say that everything is good. We can all point out things in life that are bad. But in the midst of troubling times, God is at work. He is working in our lives and in the world to accomplish his purposes and fulfill his will. And we can trust him to do just that.
There are times when it is not easy to give thanks. The checking account is at its limit, and three bills remain on the table. The car is making that funny noise again, and the baby coughs through the night. The neighbor’s dog has tunneled under the fence again and dug up your flower bed. The … Oh, you get the picture.
Life can be a challenge. Things happen that break our hearts and raise our blood pressure. Your boss says you are no longer needed. Your candidate loses the election. Your spouse says there is someone else. And you wonder why God allows it all to happen.
And still we read, “In everything give thanks.” Sometimes it’s hard to do so. But we do it anyway.
And then there are those other moments. The old gospel song says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.” And when we do that, we see that he has done far more than we thought. He has been good. He is being good. And he will be good.
It is the week we celebrate Thanksgiving. By Friday, many will be focused on Christmas. But for this week I want to encourage you. “In everything give thanks.” Indeed, it is God’s will for you.