Thanksgiving is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines among Christians today. Yet there are many parts of the Bible that instruct us to give thanks. The Apostle Paul saw it as important to give this instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, justifying it as the will of God for us!
Thanking God for good things and evident blessings in your life is not difficult to do, but even then, many do not adopt thanksgiving as a part of their lifestyle. Unfortunately, many of us have a sense of entitlement and take God’s blessings for granted! In Luke 17, out of ten lepers whom Jesus healed, only one turned back to thank Him (Luke 17:11-19). Hopefully, you and I are not ungrateful recipients of God’s goodness and grace.
However, the greater challenge is to thank God even when things are not good, or at least when they are evidently not going well. Admittedly, thanking God in difficult circumstances is not easy. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 still instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
Note that we are to give thanks “in” all circumstances, and not “for” all circumstances. For example, we do not give thanks for sickness, but we give thanks in sickness. Why should we give thanks in difficult circumstances? Because it is an expression of our faith in God. It says that we believe God is sovereign and powerful, loving and good, and He will work out His good purposes for us even in adversities (Romans 8:28). It says that we believe that even if Satan intends evil against us through adversities or even a tragic incident, God will redeem it and accomplish His good purposes through it (Genesis 50:20). Even if we don’t see that happening, we believe He is accomplishing His Own purposes in His time. Such faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), so we seek to give thanks even in difficult circumstances.
The Apostle Paul models such faith for us. Despite being imprisoned, he could still rejoice and thank God when he wrote to the Philippians (Philippians 1:3-5). Paul could do so because with eyes of faith he saw that God was actually using his imprisonment for the greater advancement of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12-18). So even though he was in prison, he was able to rejoice and thank God. He thanked God for the Philippians and their partnership, for what God had accomplished through his imprisonment, for the deliverance he believed would take place, and even if not, he thanked God that Christ would be glorified anyway (Philippians 1:19-20).
Do you have a habit of thanking God for His blessings in your life? Even for “little blessings” that most people take for granted, like life and good health, family and friends, your home, and the bed you sleep on. Or like the privilege of salvation, of being a child of God, of being in Lighthouse Evangelism. Do you thank God when you receive a gift, a compliment, a good grade, a promotion, a pleasant surprise? Or do you inwardly think you’ve worked for it and deserve it? Develop a daily habit of thanking God for His blessings. For a start, over the next 30 days, write down and thank God for 3 specific blessings every day.
As for learning to thank God in difficult circumstances, learn to reflect on the unpleasant experiences and circumstances you may be facing, asking God to help you see them from His perspective, the purposes and outcomes that He’s accomplishing, and thank Him. If you can’t see any good in them, then thank God for who He is and what He’s doing and for other good things He’s giving you. By doing so, you are growing in faith and learning to please God. Give thanks in all circumstances!
Monday: Psalm 92:1
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
Tuesday: Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Wednesday: Psalm 107:1
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Thursday: 1 Timothy 2:1
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people
Friday: Philippians 4:6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Saturday: Ephesians 5:18b-20
18…be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Sunday: 2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures are quoted from the English Standard Version.
By Pastor Yong Tai Tong