Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
Don’t miss Parts 1-9! Find them starting here.
GIVING THANKS IN ALL SITUATIONS, REALLY?
As this post hits on Thanksgiving Day this year, I thought it would be very timely to talk about giving thanks. We always talk about it on THIS day. We go around the table and share what we’re thankful for. And then we forget it about it. Or at least we seem to. What about your family?
When I started reading scripture for this topic, I ran across the most often quoted scripture on giving thanks: 1 Thessalonians 5:18. (The one just below the title image….up above.) It talks of giving thanks in ALL circumstances and I thought “Really, all situations? How can anyone possibly do that!” Then I learned what it really means…..
I have often heard people, usually older and wiser people, say, “Oh, just thank Him for what you do have” or “Thank Him for letting you go through this” and I would think, are you crazy? Why would I want to thank anyone for “letting” me be miserable? Duh!
So, with those words of wisdom, I thought that whatever situation I found myself in, I was suppose to thank God for it. And while the scripture does say to give thanks in all circumstances, it’s really not saying to thank God for pain or evil, but rather to thank Him for the strength He gives us to get through ALL situations and the promises of joy He has planned for us! That’s quite different than praising Him for EVERYTHING!
He didn’t cause the evil or pain, but He will see us through it, if we will give Him ALL the praise and thanksgiving!
Jesus showed us how to do this while He was on the cross. …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:2~
He knew what was waiting for Him on the other side (“set before him”)! He endured the pain and humiliation so He could sit right next to our Father, glorify His name, and to be an example for us. This is when this scripture finally made sense for me.
If we can look past our current situations to the joy He promises for us in the future, we CAN thank Him in all circumstances! He will use all of these bad circumstances (difficult marriages, financial issues, challenging job, etc.) for good. (Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:20) The key is to glorify Him through it all.
When people see us in the middle of a struggle, whether they know what is really going on or not, they are watching to see how we react to everything. If we react as Jesus did knowing death was inevitable, and set our eyes on the reward we know God has for us, we can thank Him in the middle of it all and others will see the belief we have in our wonderful, powerful, and redemptive Father.
A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE
As I said above and I’ve said other times before, people are watching us and just waiting for us to slip up. When we do, and we will, they look to how we respond and then make judgments about us as human beings and as Christians, whether they know us or not.
I have a confession to make, I “slipped up” the other day by saying something off the cuff that offended a customer at my part-time job and it KILLED me. I beat myself up all night over it! I said it, not meaning to be hurtful and not thinking she heard me, but it came across as rude and she most certainly heard me.
The enemy beat me up really badly that night, to the point I questioned whether I was worthy of writing this blog, leading young women at the university, etc. I finally fell asleep only to have the grace of our wonderful Father forgive me and tell me, this is a teachable moment. Teachable to me and teachable to others.
A hard lesson to learn, but a humbling one none the less. I big ole piece of humble pie!
After I woke and thought back through the situation, I realized the way I responded was what made the difference. The lady hung around until she had me to herself and confronted me. I could have easily denied I knew what she was talking about. I could have ignored her. I could have blown her off and been ugly to her. I COULD have done a lot of negative things, but instead, I stopped, looked her straight in the eyes (shaking like a leaf, mind you), and told her I was SO sorry and that I did not mean to offend her. I tried not to make excuses, but to own up to what I had done, face it head-on, and thank God for getting me through it and for teaching me something. She did not openly “forgive” me, but I pray she did. She may not, but that’s not for me to make happen. Hopefully she knew I was sincerely apologetic and did not mean any harm.
So, what lessons can we learn from this not-so-flattering-moment or just things that seem negative at the time? Here is what I believe I learned and hope you can learn as well:
- Others are watching us and listening to us, even when we are unaware
- Our response to situations is often more important than our initial action
- Facing issues head-on, without making excuses, is not easy, but always the better course of action
- Thanking God through the good times and the bad help us to get through any situation and glorify Him above anything else
On a funnier note, for a brief moment I also remembered why I got out of retail in the first place:
- The hours and pay suck
- People act crazy (especially during the holidays!)
- I say stupid things when I’m rattled
I think I need to stick to teaching art!
MAKING EVERY DAY A “THANKFUL” DAY
So, as you sit around the table today or tonight or any day, for that matter, think about what you are truly thankful for. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at my parents’ house surrounded by my kids and am truly thankful for these few, fleeting moments when we’re all together.
Going forward, I want to also challenge you to make every day, not just today, a thankful day. If you journal, or even if you don’t but want to start, how about starting a Negative/Positive journal? It’s sort of like a gratitude journal, but instead, take something negative (could happen the day you’re writing or something from your past) and see how you could turn it into a positive, thankful do-over.
Here could be an example from my story above:
Negative Situation: Spoke unkind words to a customer today
Positive/Thankful Do-Over: Faced the customer, apologized, asked for forgiveness
Thank you Lord for giving me the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1-7) to apologize to the woman I offended even when I was scared to death and for reminding me to always let others see You in me.
But what if you can’t see anything positive in a situation right now? That’s okay. Pray a prayer of thankfulness for what God is doing on your behalf right now! Pray that He will continue to give you the strength to get through whatever it is you’re struggling with and that you will continue to glorify Him through it all.
SCRIPTURES OF THANKSGIVING
While looking for scriptures about thanksgiving, I ran across several verses that I thought you might find helpful. There were a bunch, but here are just a few:
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath. It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High ~Psalm 92:1~
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever ~Psalm 136:1-26~
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord the great God, the great King above all gods. ~Psalm 95:2-3
And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. ~1 Chronicles 29:13~
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge. ~1 Corinthians 1:4-5~
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! ~Psalm 147:7~
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. ~1 Timothy 4:4-5
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. ~1 Chronicles 16:34~
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. ~Psalm 100:4~
Until next time, I pray you all have a fun, enjoyable, and relaxing Thanksgiving!
Please pass this post along to someone you think needs to find a way to turn negative situations into positive, thankful do overs. Please leave me a comment about how you’ve turned a negative into a positive. I would love to hear from you!