“ Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Did I read that correctly? That can’t be right? Give thanks in all circumstances? Yup, it’s right there in black and white. All circumstances. Good. Bad. Ugly. All circumstances.
If you’re a human (and I’m guessing you are if you’re reading this) then you have probably had some pretty tough circumstances in your life. Pain, real pain. Suffering. Grief. Some days the circumstances surrounding your life might make it seem impossible to thank God.
Maybe today is like that for you. Oh, friend, first I want to say I’m sorry you are going through rough circumstances. Looking to God doesn’t always change the stuff in our lives, but it most definitely always changes us. I pray you feel God’s presence strongly and His loving arms holding you in your suffering.
But back to that verse up there. How do we give thanks in all circumstances when we’ve come to the end of ourselves and the end of our words? We use someone else’s words—God’s!
We can pray His Word back to Him.
The Psalms are a great place to start. They are full of honest, raw pain and suffering—and thanksgiving. Claim those words as your own and pray them to the Lord.
David knew what it was to feel defeated and forgotten. He felt the weight of his circumstances over and over again. We see that clearly in the Psalms he wrote. A seemingly unfulfilled calling, dodging spears thrown by his boss, Family feuds, marriage trouble, running for his life from his father-in-law, consequences from the sin that trapped him, losing children—David was no stranger to tough circumstances.
But, we can see that he did thank God in them.
And we can too.
For example, take Psalm 106:1 (and the many other places in the Psalms where we find this phrase). “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” You can pray, “I praise You LORD! Oh I give thanks to You LORD, for You are good, for Your steadfast love endures forever!” You can pray this way even if (or especially if) you don’t feel like it. When your feelings are just too much for you to bear.
You can continue with Psalm 26: 6-7, 33:2, Psalm 35:17-18, Psalm 57:9, Psalm 75:1, Psalm 100, 107: 19-22, Psalm 108:21-31, Psalm 138:1, and Psalm 142
It may feel strange at first, but, there is power in God’s Word and it has the power to change us—to help us thank God in all circumstances and as we do that, He will make us truly thankful by the power of His Holy Word. And in that attitude of thankfulness, we may just find the strength to look up, beyond those circumstances, into the face of the One in Whom our hope lies. And that is definitely something for which to give thanks!
Oh Lord, You know my circumstances and You know my heart. You know that I don’t feel like thanking You, but I know that You are always worthy of thanks, no matter how I feel or what is going on in my life. Thank you for Your Holy Word that I can pray when I have no words of my own. Today, Lord I bring to You “a sacrifice of thanksgiving,” as it says in Psalm 50:34. Amen.