What Does It Mean to “Give Thanks in All Circumstances”?
As difficulties pile on, it can be easy to look around and see nothing good, sinking into despair, perpetual anger, and an inability to feel gratitude. The Bible does not pretend there is no suffering, with the Book of Ecclesiastes acknowledged there will be, “a time to kill … a time to break down … a time to weep … a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:3-4).
In order to be thankful at all times it is important to have sources of joy, something to always be grateful for, and reminders to turn to those sources of joy and good things when times are hard.
What should be the Christian’s ultimate source of joy? To get through loss, suffering, and chaotic times, it would need to be something permanent and unchanging. Jesus prayed to His Father, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). He wants those who love Him to have His joy, and to be thankful for those things which bring joy.
Jesus had joy when:
- A sinner repented and became saved: Luke 15
- When the Father’s will is done: Luke 10:20-24
- When thinking about eternity together John 16:20-22
The Bible also encourages believers to be thankful for:
- Jesus’ everlasting words: John 17:3
- God’s unchanging nature: Psalm 102:27
- Salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:57
- The eternal home in Heaven: Hebrews 12:28
Ultimately, the Bible encourages believers to focus on eternal things. It is important to thank God for earthly blessings, but in order to always be thankful, there must be things to thank God for that do not rust, decay, or disappear. The way to always give thanks is to remember to thank God for His eternal gifts and promises.
When the Bible says to give thanks in all things, it asks people to thank God for blessings both visible and invisible. When He blesses, thank Him, and thank Him for the things unseen in which Christians place their hope.
Of course, the verse does not mean that every second of every day Christians should be muttering “thank you God” under their breath. Instead, it encourages an attitude adjustment, and a re-focusing of priorities. Thanking God for blessings through praise and prayer is the first step, and the second is by turning away from earthly wants and desires, and focusing on the future promises that will matter forever, that are guaranteed by the Word of God, so there is always something to thank Him for, even if current circumstances are difficult.
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