The other day I wrote a post on giving thanks in all things over on my author site. It was based around 1 Thessalonians 5:18, where, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are admonished to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in all things – to give thanks.
You have Parkinson’s. Someone you know has Parkinson’s. You have a chronic illness other than Parkinson’s. You have gout. You have a chronic illness and gout and a friend with Parkinson’s and you can’t find the TV remote and you’re supposed to give thanks?
Sure. Right after you eat the last two Oreos because after all, you have a little milk left and studies have shown (studies I conducted personally or with a group) Oreos have been proven to help you feel better. But you gotta have milk…
There are just some things in life that are hard to give thanks for. But, it doesn’t say give thanks for everything, it says, give thanks in everything. And there is a difference.
Giving thanks for all things, is an act of gratitude, of “thanks-giving” upon recognition of a gift having been given to you. Giving thanks in all things con notates situations and circumstances. Is it possible to be in the throws of say, Parkinson’s disease or some other chronic or terminal illness? I believe so. Is it possible to be able to give thanks in the midst of some battle while not being able to give thanks for it? I know so.
You, undoubtedly, have read that people have actually been able to see the blessings that God has brought about through their illness or disease. And they have gone on to use those blessings as opportunities to bless others who are going through similar circumstances. There is no one more qualified to comfort the hurting except the one who has already been there, done that. There is no one who can understand better that pain, confusion, sorrow, and grief. And there is no one better to help get through the grief than the one who has already experienced grief itself.
How do you give thanks in all things? I believe it takes knowing the One on whose ears the thanksgiving will rest. The One who is at work to bring together everything that happens to us – good and bad – for our good. He doesn’t allow situations and circumstances in our life to defeat us, to beat us down, to cause us to grow weary. We may feel defeated, beat down, and weary, but those are feelings and our feelings are not always accurate. Sure we can grow weary and get beat down over what life serves up but the fact is – we are not defeated. God is a god of victories and He is fighting for us.
Giving thanks in all things constitutes believing that God has your best interest at heart. Believing that He is sovereign and in control, regardless of what is going on around you. It means believing that He is faithful and can be trusted. And if He is faithful and trustworthy, surely our response will be an attitude of thanksgiving because He knows what He’s doing and what He’s doing is taking the bad – diseases, illnesses, abuse, severed relationships and more – and he’s working through the circumstances to bring about good. Good meant for us.
I believe that eventually, giving thanks in everything can lead to giving thanks for everything. Because you have trusted His faithfulness, and because you have rested in His sovereignty and you have seen the blessings from being broken yourself, then maybe – just maybe – you’ll be able to give thanks for everything.