“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This passage of Scripture contains some of Paul’s closing exhortations to the Thessalonian church (see the rest of chapter 5 for the whole list). While they are all significant, let us focus on vs. 18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
With all the challenges that come our way, we have great difficulty giving thanks IN all of them. Consider giving thanks to God IN these situations:
- Lost your job
- You’ve been assaulted
- Your child dies
To give thanks in such difficult trials requires a trust in God that is much, much more than lip service. To give thanks when life is falling apart means that we believe that God is working behind the scenes to bring about the best results for us… even though we can’t understand how. It means that we believe in a God that is ‘bigger’ than we are, that knows more than we ever can. And so we put our trust in Him and thank Him even when the going gets rough.
The story of Job illustrates this concept very well. Job was a godly man; he was faithful and upright. But God allowed satan to attack Job; first his family and his wealth and then Job’s body/health (Job 1-2). Job had no clue of what was going on and, for a while, he was sure that God was being unfair (Job 3-37). However, in the end, God used the experience to grow Job’s faith, which at the start was focused on Job’s own righteousness, but by the end was focused on God’s authority (Job 38-42). In Job’s words:
“…therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” ~ Job 42:3b
In other words, Job realized that there was infinitely more going on than he understood. God wasn’t against him, God DID care about him… even though Job couldn’t ‘see’ it (God never did explain to Job what was going on behind the scenes), Job accepted it by faith.
“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.” ~ Romans 8:28
And that is the crux of the matter: for us to give thanks in everything, we must first trust that God loves us and is working things out for us in the best possible way…. even when it hurts so much. As our text tells us, this IS the will of God. This is what He wants us to do.
“Endurance in the midst of suffering, not success, health, or wealth, is the mark of a genuine Christian life. Furthermore, it is faith and hope in the midst of suffering, not miraculous deliverance from it, that display most clearly the all-sufficiency of God to a despairing world.” ~ Scott Hafemann
■In quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle tells us there is a limit to what we can know about the trajectory of a particle without changing the trajectory of that particle. Likewise, there is a limit to what we can know about the events impinging on our lives without changing the very direction of our lives.
If God revealed everything to us would we still follow Him? Would we accept His plans? Or would we ask for them to be changed?
When Jesus revealed to His disciples that He would be put to death on the cross, Peter rebuked Him. And if Peter would have had his own way, Jesus would not have died on The Cross… and so we would not have The Gift of Salvation: We would all likewise perish in our sins.
Faith in The Divine Planner is more important than knowledge of His plans.
■■ In pottery, for a vessel to be both beautiful and useful, it must be fired: placed in a kiln (oven) at a temperature high enough that the beautiful glaze can permanently infused onto the vessel’s surface AND that the unsteady, weak clay can be transformed into a structure that is unchangeable and strong.
If the clay pot has faith in the potter, it will give the potter thanks even as it endures the intense heat.
■■■ From Job’s experience, it is clear that God will stop at nothing to grow us, to draw us closer to Him. Indeed, Scripture tells us:
“… He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” ~ Philippians 1:6b
Therefore, let us thank God in every situation, because our knowledge is limited, because He does care for us and because He will stop at nothing to perfect us.
- Suffering may Endure for a Season… (reflectionsintheword.org)
- God’s Waiting to Share (reflectionsintheword.org)
- Our Father’s Perfect Plans (reflectionsintheword.org)