Articles - Christian Growth
by Lyn Packer
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
How often have we read these verses and said in our minds, "You've got to be kidding. It's impossible!" And yet there it is in black and white in front of us – "be joyful always…give thanks in all circumstances."
I love the idea of the holiday of Thanksgiving in the USA – a day where people gather with those they love and give thanks for the good things in their lives, it's a great idea and one that should be spread to every nation. Unfortunately 'Thanksgiving Day' only takes care of one day out of 365 and Paul plainly says that we should be thankful in every circumstance, every day.
Scripture talks a lot about thanksgiving and its place in our lives. For me, one of the key things about thanksgiving is that it causes us to see things differently, and what we see determines, in a large way, what we get. But thanksgiving isn't about getting what we want, it's a foundational part of our Christian walk.
Thanksgiving, I believe, is related to our fundamental belief about the goodness of God. Scripture plainly says that He is love, He is truth, He is good, He is faithful, He is kind, He is merciful, He is righteous, He is holy…and more. When we truly know that, we realize that He is an absolutely amazing God and Father. That realization will cause us not just to be thankful in a particular circumstance, but to live a life that is full of thankfulness! How we see God will determine how we see our circumstances. And how we see God will determine whether we 'have to choose to be thankful' out of obedience to a God who demands it, or whether we 'live thankful' and give thanks out of genuine knowledge of how good our loving Father is.
How do we see God?
How do we see God? Because that will determine whether we live that life of thankfulness or just sometimes choose to be thankful. Yes we do need to choose to be thankful and to give thanks in every circumstance. It won't always be an automatic reaction, but there is a difference between doing it because we 'have to' and doing it because we are truly convinced of Father's goodness, love, favour, provision and more. And the more we do it the more it will become our nature to do so.
Satan fears us living a life of thankfulness because he knows the power of it. When we live thankful he loses much of his ability to manipulate us in our daily circumstances. Whenever we live from that place of thankfulness to God, even in the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in our life.
When we give thanks in the midst of difficulty, we are saying, "God, I believe who You are; I believe that You want to do me good. I believe that You have a plan and strategy for this situation and I believe that You will turn it to good!"
We bring pleasure to God's heart, we honour Him and we prepare the way for Him to act on our behalf… "He who offers thanksgiving, honours me and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" Psalm 50:23 (NIV)
In 1 Thess 5, I don't believe Paul is telling us to do something because we 'have to'. He's reminding us that it's part of the life of Jesus inside us - to do the will of God. He's reminding us that we can not only give thanks, but we can live thankful because we know that God has a plan for good in every circumstance… "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Rom 8:28. When we know that He has a plan for good, a plan to turn every circumstance to blessing, we can in all honesty be joyful and give thanks in every circumstance.