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).
Is it really realistic to give thanks in all circumstances? Can we honestly be grateful in the hard experiences of life? Apparently we can; this is God’s explicit will for us. But on what basis?
We have complete assurance from God that if we trust in him, he will guard our lives and provide for our needs. That doesn’t mean we never experience pain. It means that no matter what we experience, we can have absolute confidence that it is not beyond his reach or messing up his plans for our lives. Every experience we have is redeemable. This is the promise of the gospel.
Several passages of scripture assure us that we are headed for a glorious future. And the pain of getting there will never outweigh the glory we find. In the end, we will look back and say about everything, “Yes, this was worth it.” So why not say it now? If this will be our perspective when we see all things clearly, why shouldn’t we go ahead and embrace it when we can’t?
That’s what it means to give thanks in all circumstances. It’s to acknowledge that all things—even the hard ones—are working together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28). Gratitude says, “Yes, Lord, it’s true.” Even before we see it with our own eyes.
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