One of the frustrating aspects of our faith is our instructions to be grateful, to “thank the Lord” for everything! Wait a minute! Read Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica:
Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Yeshua that you do this (I Thessalonians 5:18)
J.B. Phillips renders that as:
Never stop praying. Be thankful, whatever the circumstances may be. If you follow this advice you will be working out the will of God expressed to you in Jesus Christ
Now, most people read that as saying, “Whatever happens, thank the Lord for it.” Really? How in the world can we be grateful for every circumstance we encounter? Events that are both challenging and joyful? Is that what is expected of us?
Are we to thank the Lord for the death of someone we love? If we suffer a financial loss, are we supposed to be grateful? What about a traffic accident, a terrible co-worker, the loss of a job. Are we to thank the Lord for those?
I don’t believe so. That text above does not instruct us to give thanks for all circumstances. Think about it. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus; He sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane; he cried out in agony while He was on the cross. Come on, those events were difficult and painful. Were they worthy of thanks to His Father?
Ah, but Paul was calling us to give thanks in every circumstance. We can reframe any challenge, no matter how difficult it might be and find a reason to be grateful:
“Father, you know the pain I have been enduring, but I am so amazed and grateful for the Grace you have given me, the intimacy I have shared with you. Thank you.”
Father, it certainly has difficult these last few days, but you know, I do thank you that you have been there for me; that you have indeed comforted me and given me the strength to continue to worship you. Thank you.”
“Whoa, Father, I have been so impressed how you have provided such wisdom and comfort during this time. Without you, I could never have endured. Thank you.”
I think you get my point.
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