In Everything, Give Thanks
Open Your Bible
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, Psalm 105:1-6, Micah 6:8, Colossians 3:12-16
One summer we drove from Tennessee to California in a shuttle bus. My only caveat as we planned the trip was that I could not handle it while pregnant! But two weeks into our travels, I sat down in the back of the bus as we bumped along the highway through Fargo, North Dakota, and started doing some figuring, resulting in the words, “Stop the bus!”
An eighty-eight-cent pregnancy test told us I was pregnant. So there we were, in the middle of the country—just as far from home as we were from our vacation destination—with hearts full of joy and the best secret. It wasn’t what we’d planned, but I’ve found it’s so easy to be thankful for good surprises, even when there are so many things that do not go as planned.
I imagine you’ve experienced this too. The college you planned on going to wasn’t the one you actually attended. Your high school sweetheart ended up marrying someone else. You entered into a six-month-long interview process but didn’t land the job. You had far less time with a parent or a child than you ever could have imagined. We’ve all experienced a change of plans, a change of expectations. Still somehow, in the midst of things swerving left when we were expecting to turn right, we’re called to give thanks.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
If we are to rejoice always, that means our rejoicing cannot be dependent upon our circumstances. If we are praying constantly, that means we ought to be praying even when we feel that things are going well or like we’ve got everything under control. If we are giving thanks in everything, that means we’re thankful not just on Thanksgiving Day but also when things don’t go the way we had planned.
But how? How can we give thanks in all circumstances? How can our thankfulness be ongoing? It’s far too easy to slip into a lazy, lip-service kind of thanksgiving or to read 1 Thessalonians 5 and feel the pressure to give thanks in spite of what’s happening. But we aren’t only called to give thanks in spite of what’s happening; we’re called to give thanks because of our God—because this is His will for us in Christ Jesus.
The foundation of a life of thanksgiving is seeing God for who He is. It is keeping our eyes fixed on Christ. When He is front and center, there are always abundant reasons for thanksgiving. No circumstance or surprise, whether welcome or scary, is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
So let us give thanks to the Lord and call on His name. Let us sing to Him, praising and proclaiming His goodness. Let us honor and seek Him above all else—because, regardless of our circumstances, our God is always worthy of our gratitude (Psalm 105:1–5).