In All Circumstances, Give Thanks
I Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When my husband, Glen, died, almost 12 years ago, one verse became instrumental in shaping my spiritual attitude about life and about death. The key word was small but had a significant meaning. It was the word, “In.” To give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, had a tremendous effect on how I viewed every situation God allowed in my life.
Some dictionaries have given this definition for the little word in: expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by. In the midst of death, surrounded by despair, in hopelessness, anguish, distress, and desperation, I am to give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for me. If this is the will of God, then I would have to say, it is a command from God for all believers to be giving thanks.
The scriptural principle that covers all of our lives is found in the verse, Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” No matter what happens it will be by God working together for our good. It may in itself not look good but God will take a bad thing and turn it to a good purpose for our good and our eternal glory. If we live believing that God is at work in our lives and sovereignly controls every aspect of life, then we can handle anything life brings and be thankful knowing it fits in to His ultimate plan.
What about when bad times come? "Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). You've got some problems that could create anxiety for you, don't be anxious about it, just start praying, start supplicating (begging, pleading with, implore, petitioning), God but be thankful in the process. In the midst of that thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we are yielded and controlled by the Spirit of God, we can know and experience the power of God in our lives. But, if we are not filled with His Spirit, we cannot observe the power of God, move in the will of God, or know the fulfillment and the blessing of God. A Spirit-filled person is going to be one who says, “Thank you” to God because thankfulness crucifies self and becomes the single greatest act of personal worship towards God. Spirit-filled people, Spirit-controlled people, are marked as thankful people.
What can hinder a thankful heart? When we doubt God and His magnificent wisdom, His love, His changelessness or His power, we are hindering a grateful heart. We're not thankful because we don't believe God can overrule the problems that we have brought to Him. Wherever there is ingratitude in our lives, or failure to thank God for His purpose unfolding in the situation, there is a serious sin taking place because to doubt God is, in a sense, to say that you can't trust what He says about Himself.
Thought: There are other things that can hinder having a thankful heart. When people are caught up in the pleasures and places of this world, or they have a critical spirit along with a negative attitude, it strips away their heart of gratitude. Impatience will rob people of thankfulness because God has not checked in with their Daytimer. They want everything on their schedule and fixed in their time frame.
We know all of these things are true and what truly sparks a thankful heart is trust in God, not doubt, anxiety or a condemnatory spirit. God's will is all that matters and being consumed with Him. Displaying a loving attitude, a forgiving spirit in kindness and tender heartedness, exhibits a life that is influenced and led by the Spirit of God. When we thank God consistently and faithfully in every situation, we're manifesting a Spirit-controlled life. God is glorified and we are blessed. There is nothing more wonderful than to maintain a joyful, thankful heart so that the world around us can see, God has truly transformed our lives.