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Can We Really Be Thankful in All Circumstances?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV).
One of the most difficult concepts for all Christians is to be thankful in all circumstances. I think all of us have lifted prayers of supplication during times of great adversity. As we prayed, we were probably nervous, angry, or perhaps scared. We certainly were not thankful.
Prayer must be grounded with gratitude, confidence, and humility. We express gratitude when we thank God for what He has already done. This concept is well stated in Philippians 4:6. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
The Bible teaches, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I think many people are waiting on God to take action on their prayers but God is perhaps waiting on them to show some sincere gratitude. Everything we have is from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).
Our confidence in prayer is not based on self-confidence but rather our confidence in the Father and His promises to us. “Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” (Ephesians 3:12).
Last but not least is humility. I know God is not pleased with the prevalent attitude of entitlement. Humility is essential to prayer. One of my favorite promises of Scripture is in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and speaks to the importance of humility. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
The Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Notice it does not say to give thanks for all circumstances. There is a big difference. There are a lot of things in life you should not be thankful for. You should never be thankful for evil. In fact, we are called to hate evil.
The Bible says to give thanks in every circumstance, not for, because God can bring good even out of bad things. This is the promise of Romans 8:28 which gives us hope during bad times. “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.”
There is no doubt that there is evil in this world. We should never be grateful for evil or tragic circumstances. We can be grateful that evil will not win. God can and will turn bad into good in His own way and in His own time. Our God has already established final victory over sin. We will eventually be healed, and His victory shall be ours as well. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
When bad things happen, don’t ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Instead, ask, “God, what do you want me to learn from this?” When we learn from God, then you grow more like Christ. Then we will be able to better see how He is working in our lives and truly give Him thanks in all circumstances.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the blood of your Son that gives us victory over sin and death. Forgive us for our lack of gratitude, confidence, and humility. Restore in us a clean heart and a right spirit. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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