In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Sometimes God’s requests seem illogical, sometimes impossible, and sometimes both. How can we give thanks in the midst of excruciating pain, or overwhelming grief? This is precisely, however, what He asks of us, and Paul seems to anticipate resistance. He adds, “This is His will for you in Christ Jesus.”
It may be His will for us to give thanks in everything, but is it our will? Honestly, during my battle with cancer, thankfulness was not often on my radar screen. Yet if a loving God wants us to do something, it must somehow benefit us, even if we don’t feel like complying. Once we shift over to thanksgiving, we discover the Lord’s wisdom, as perspective changes everything.
So thankfulness makes sense, but is it always possible? Job proved humans can give thanks despite great grief and pain. He praised and worshiped God after the death of his children, servants, and livestock. Then he blessed God despite an incredibly painful skin disease.
We can imitate Job because we have the same resources from which to draw. In fact, in this New Testament era, we have more resources than Job, if we depend on Christ’s supernatural power, which is available to those who have received Him as Savior (more on how to receive Christ).
So giving thanks in everything is not only logical, but possible. Here are three points for which I was thankful during my battle.
1) God’s nearness
He revealed His presence to me in tangible ways. More than once He gave me an “other-worldly” peace which could not be explained, especially given my physical and emotional condition. It certainly didn’t come from me!
2) People’s support
Though people could not take away my suffering, they sure did lighten my load. I was often amazed and thankful for the genuine care I received from so many. People’s love should not be taken for granted.
3) Clearer perspective
Being incapacitated revealed the shallowness of some of my normal pursuits. One example: I “saw” the emptiness of popular culture. Or did I see my own emptiness, to be so mindlessly entertained and distracted by basically nothing?
Lord, we hurt, but help us to focus on the many things for which we can still be thankful.