As I was reading my devotion and saying my prayers tonight, I thought of all the things I have to be thankful for. The scripture I was reading from was: 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It says: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you". Hmm…do I have to be thankful for everything...? I have to admit that there are some things that I am not thankful for. If you’re like me, there are some areas in your life you need to be working on. I think I’m a generally thankful person, at least in those areas where it’s easy to be thankful. I’m thankful for an amazing family; I’m thankful for great friends and a great community to live in. It’s easy to be thankful for those things.....but there are some things that it’s just dog gone hard to be thankful for. I have a hard time being thankful when people I love are sick….or when I hear of crimes committed, accidents that take a life, child abuse, people losing their jobs….the list goes on.
But the scripture doesn’t say “For everything give thanks”, it says “In everything give thanks”. Is there a difference? "In everything" seems to mean that no matter what you've been dealt, there are circumstances to be thankful for - if you're in an accident, be thankful you are still alive; if you've been robbed, be thankful that you were not hurt. If you have been hurt by someone, be thankful for the people in your life who help you to heal.
Every time I read this scripture, I think about the late Corrie ten Boon who wrote The Hiding Place. That was one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read! Corrie and her family risked their lives by hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland during WWII. They were all eventually sent to a concentration camp and she lost her sister and her father there. At one time, she and her sister were in a barracks where everyone had lice. As they prayed during their Bible studies, her sister would thank God, “even for the lice”. Later they learned that because of the lice, the guards left their barracks alone – which is why they could hold the Bible studies that were such a comfort to everyone. From everything I’ve heard about the effects of lice, I’m not sure I would have the faith to be thankful for them.
I do know that looking back on things that have happened in our lives, there have been good things that have come out of bad. Henry was drafted but circumstances happened that he didn’t have to go to Vietnam. The circumstance was that Russia invaded Czechoslovakia and his Nuclear Weapons training sent him to Germany to be a “bomb” guard near the Czech border. So I’ve always been thankful for Russia’s aggression. (just kidding). As Corrie ten Boon once said, "God does not have problems, only plans".
I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t expect us to be thankful for the bad stuff that happens in our life. But he expects us to have enough faith in Him to know that He is in control and there will be good that comes out of the bad. How we handle the bad can be an inspiration to others. Our hard knocks help us give counsel to others; the grief we experience can help us give comfort to those about us who grieve.
For right now, I will be thankful for winter, because I know that it signals the spring. I will be thankful for darkness, because right behind it comes the light. And I will work at “In EVERYTHING give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for me”. I’m a slow learner, but I'm thankful that I have the ability to learn.