“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving week comes and we hear people talking about the things they’re thankful for. Maybe you sit around the Thanksgiving table and tell one another what you’re thankful for. But maybe you’re a little hard-pressed to think of anything to be thankful for this year.

God tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. All is a pretty inclusive word.

Not just the good stuff. But all the stuff. Now, I know that’s a really hard to thing to do sometimes. When you’re missing family members, when your health is bad, when the money is tight.  Sometimes it’s an act of sheer will, of obedience, of faith that God is going to do something in and with those circumstances.

It’s easy to give thanks once that circumstance has passed and we can see the good the Lord has wrought in it.  But we are to give thanks when we’re in the middle of the mess.

When we don’t see what God’s doing.

When we don’t know how long it’ll last.

When we don’t know how we’ll get through it.

But why is this God’s will?

Giving thanks in the storm makes us humble and crushes our pride.  It keeps us from allowing bitterness and resentment to settle in, creating a Grand Canyon-sized gap between us and God.  It keeps those vital communication lines open and that allows for His peace to flow into our hearts.  It keeps us following Him, allowing Him to do the good He desires to do with those circumstances instead of going through them with no fruit at the end.

It’s no coincidence that God tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

Continually placing all circumstances in the Lord’s hands gives us His peace and assurance, and naturally – or more accurately, supernaturally – the thankful heart will come, and we can confidently go through any circumstance with hope and the joy of the Lord. 

Once we’ve walked with the Lord a while, and I don’t just mean knowing who He is, or going to church on Sundays, but really walk with Him, day by day, circumstance by circumstance, conversation to conversation, we’ll see more and more that He is a Father we can trust.  We can rest assured that He is with us no matter how far down in the pit we are, no matter how bleak the circumstances feel.

Remember, Jesus knows what it’s like.

For the One who gave His life for us, we live a life of worship, and all great acts of worship start with the first one – a thankful heart that’s trusting our Father’s goodness and grace to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.