Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5: 18

 

It seems that if God really wanted people to be thankful, He would rearrange the way that this world works. There are just too many times when the evidence that is left behind in the wake of the storm that is life points toward chaos and disaster as ruling principles and away from God as the creator of order and peace. Yet, that is exactly what God is; so, there is something else wrong with the world where we live. For there is no question that everyone encounters the hard, the painful, the disappointing, and the tragic as we negotiate the twists and the turns of traveling our days. Then, we run straight into the truly challenging events and situations so that our faith and our trust in God are tested and our capacity to make sense of it all can be overwhelmed.

 

Now, the Apostle Paul was no fool, He was not naïve, and he was certainly not someone who only saw the good in life. He lived in the very real world of death, oppression, and antagonism. He also seems like a man who took his own council to heart. He sought with all of his being to live in the way that he told others that they should live. So, when he says that we should give thanks in all circumstances, I tend to believe that he actually meant it. In fact, he says that our attitude of thanksgiving begins before rescue, relief, or resolution of our situation. Paul believed that it was possible to have a thankful heart and mind while living in the middle of the struggle. That seems absurd, irrational, and even dangerous as this approach would seem to take our focus off of solving the problem as we contemplate God.

 

However, that may be the point. The tendency of most people, myself included, when there is struggle and stress is to look long and hard at our own resources for the answer to it all. We also start to divert all of our energy and strength to use in confronting the opponent that we are facing. All of this effort is very inwardly focused, and it often leads us away from others and deep into ourselves. God sees rescue and resolution of trials differently. The situations and circumstances that will bring about stress in our lives are inherent in our broken, fallen world. We will encounter them, and we will need to engage in the battle with them regularly. So God; from the center of His heart of grace, mercy, and love; provided an answer to those circumstances. He gave us Himself in the person of Christ. God desires for each of us to recognize and to rest in the reality of this only true means of salvation. Living in the thankful awareness of Christ and of His personal full and absolute engagement with our life leads our minds out of focusing on ourselves, brings us into the strength of Christ’s living body, and provides the wisdom of eternity for understanding the crisis at hand.