“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
I find it interesting that Merriam Webster’s first definition of thankful is “conscious of benefit received.”
It’s easy to associate thankfulness with good things.
“Thank you for the compliment.”
“Thank you for serving my food.”
“Thank you for the gift.”
“Thank you for holding the door open.”
But, what about the not-so-good?
“Thank you for holding up traffic.”
“Thank you for this extra workload.”
“Thank you for leaving your dirty clothes everywhere.”
“Thank you for this storm.”
That sounds crazy, right? Unless someone is being passive aggressive and spewing sarcasm (which, I’ve learned, typically does more harm than good), it’s unlikely that those sentiments would come from a person’s mouth.
However, as it always does, God’s Word challenges us to go beyond the instinctive.
“…give thanks in all circumstances…”
Some people jump to the defense and say things like, “I can’t be thankful for sickness! I can’t be thankful for this pain and grief!”
I’d have to agree.
That’s why it’s important to note the small preposition used in this admonition from 1 Thessalonians. We aren’t to be thankful for all circumstances, but rather we are to thankful in all circumstances.
It really boils down to perspective.
Will I dwell on the pain of my situation, or will I focus on the personal growth that could happen as a result?
Will I drown in grief, or will I embrace fond memories?
So while I may not always be thankful for my circumstances, I choose to be grateful in the midst of my circumstances.
- Jesus loves me, and He has never failed me.
- I have breath in my body.
- There is hope beyond this life.
- I have a loving family.
- Beauty can be found in the smallest things, like the autumn air and the faithful sunrise.
- I have a home, plenty of clothes, and a variety of food.
- …and on, and on, and on.
Yes, there is so much to be thankful for, despite circumstances.
Talk about defying expectations. 🙂 Ah, a good topic for another day…
May you be filled with gratitude, no matter how different this holiday season may be.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!