Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Not always an easy scripture to swallow, especially if you have gone through long trials and debilitating circumstances. The Apostle Paul in this scripture was not teaching that we should thank God for everything that happens to us, but in everything. Evil does not come from God, so we should not thank Him for it, but when evil strikes, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good that He will accomplish through the distress (Romans 8:28).
It is easy to give thanks when a baby is born, when someone gets married, or when your child graduates college and lands a good job, but what about when you have a prodigal child, long for a spouse, or have a family member on drugs? Not as easy to give thanks then. If we are human, than we can admit that it is more of a challenge to be thankful for our difficult circumstances. We can grow weary in our circumstances, and begin to grumble and complain about them. It can be easier to have self-pity in our pain. It feels good to whine and have others feel sorry for us. We want someone to validate that we have had it rough.
In my weakness and human frailty, I would rather not give thanks for my difficulties. I want to “nurse my wounds,” and rehearse them to anyone who might would sympathize with me. But what if God has a greater plan than we could imagine? What if God is allowing some of the things in our lives to shape us, build character, strength, and endurance? Is it possible, to turn every hard circumstance in our lives around to see the goodness in them? Difficult? Yes, but possible, and even beneficial to your mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
I am not talking about denying your pain and suffering, but allowing yourself to see the good in each situation. You might be thinking, “I can’t find any good in my circumstances.” Believe me, I understand, but think a little harder about your adversities, and how have you changed as a result of them? Are you stronger? Do you have a closer walk with the Lord?
You could be thinking, “But I did not ask for these circumstances.” True, but God is in control of your life and all that is in your life. Perhaps, you feel that is not fair. But we did not create our lives, nor anyone in our lives, so we must submit to the One who did.
How to move past not giving thanks in all your circumstances:
- Admit how you really feel to God. Tell Him, write it out and let it out.
- Begin reflecting on the goodness in each difficult situation in your life.
- Celebrate every small victory in your life. You don’t have to wait until you gain full victory in every area.
- FOCUS on what is right and a blessing in your life. CHOOSE to get your mind off of what is wrong in your life, and reflect and give thanks of what is right in your life.
- Express your gratitude. Write or say aloud DAILY at least 5 things that you are thankful for. It will keep your mind focused on your blessings instead of your trails.
Have you experienced troubling times in your life? If so, how did you begin to give thanks during those times?