The Bible Speaks
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount that “until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” In other words, every word, small or large, is significant if it occurs in Scripture. This truth even applies to prepositions like “for” and “in.” Today’s text is a great illustration of this truth.
Christians are often exhorted to be thankful FOR everything and 1 Thess. 5:18 is the basis for such exhortations. Of course, it is difficult to be thankful FOR everything when some of those things are just downright undesirable or even evil. Accidents that take a life; job firings; divorces; mass slayings and numerous other tragedies of life are things for which no one is expected to be thankful; yet, many are told we should offer thanks FOR everything, good or bad or in-between. Does the word of God really say this?
Notice that what today’s verse says is not “for everything” but “in everything.” There is a difference, a grand difference. To be thankful to God for everything is to attribute everything to Him. Wicked, evil and immoral deeds are NOT His doing for God is good and cannot do evil. To be thankful to Him for such things is to credit Him with their cause and that is simply untrue and even impossible. Evil comes from Satan and this fallen world and our sinful nature, not from God. He may and does permit it but He never authors it. I cannot be thankful for the evil and calamity of this fallen world. Thankfully I am not commanded to do so for the command is to be thankful “in” all things not “for” all things.
To be thankful “in” something is to carry an attitude of thankfulness that God is in control in spite of the events that are unpleasant and unwanted. It is the recognition that even when bad things happen God can bring good out of them. It is a call to prayer that petitions the Lord to change the events and the evil hearts that authored them. To be thankful in everything is to rise above one’s circumstances and find joy in the Lord who will carry us through by His strength and power. Above all, it is a faith filled recognition that we are not abandoned to the fate of this evil world but have a mighty God who is looking out for His children and using the trials and troubles of life to strengthen us.
The Bible speaks of giving thanks IN every situation and every circumstance regardless of whether we would choose it or not. The one who learns to trust God and thank Him in the midst of the trials or life will be the most contented of all believers and will have the most vibrant testimony to the rest of the world. Brethren, give thanks IN everything because God is using everything to bring about His perfect will.
The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor of Turner’s Chapel.