In his letter to the Church in Thessalonica, Paul the Apostle directs the attention of the Believers here to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He cautions the Church to be alert and ready for the time of Jesus’ return is uncertain. Paul elaborates on a check list for Believers to guard their lifestyle and make it presentable to Christ at His coming. One of the things in this list is giving thanks to God.
When Amy Carmichael, a British Missionary, set sail to Japan in obedience to God’s call on her life, she was assigned a tiny cabin infested with insects and bugs of sorts. Instead of complaining, Amy Carmichael painted these words on the door of her cabin “In everything give thanks” along with the initials of the various pests one might find beyond. She had indeed learnt the best lesson in her Missionary life to give thanks to God in everything.
The words ‘thank God’ seem fair enough. As Lord and Ruler over our lives, gratitude to God is an acceptable command. However our problem is the words that follow, ‘in everything’. Thanking God for the money in the purse, the great job, the people we love are all easy and Christian believers are faithful in acknowledging God as the source of these ‘Blessings’.
On the flip side, what happens when the funds are low, the job gone, loved ones die and life changes for the worse? At such times do we cry ‘why me God?’ or ‘Thank you Lord’? Most often we settle for the former and lament over the injustice of the situation, failing to obey the command to ‘Thank God in everything’.
We fail to see that the verse reads ‘in everything’ and not ‘for everything’. We thank God for the blessings we have and get short sighted in our thanksgiving. We fail to appreciate the fact that everything that happens to us and the ones we love are in line with the will of God.
Understanding that in all circumstances, God’s will alone prevails should be the reason and the assurance for our ‘giving thanks’. When we take refuge in His will, giving thanks to God comes spontaneously. We then learn to give thanks in everything and not for everything.
Job lived out this principle in giving thanks to God. When all his wealth and family was destroyed with the wink of an eye, all he had to say was “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed (praised and magnified) in worship be the name of the Lord” Job 1: 21 (The Amplified Bible)
The cup of affliction can come to us at any moment. However realizing that God is in control and that everything happens in accordance with His will is both a comfort and a reason to rejoice and give thanks, in the midst of suffering.
“Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances maybe, be thankful and give thanks] for this is the will of God for you[who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (The Amplified Bible)