People everywhere want to know what God’s will is for their life. I may not be able to tell you what God’s will is regarding who you should marry, what college you should attend, what job you should take, or whether or not God wants you to buy a new house, but I can with great confidence tell you that it is God’s will for you to be thankful regardless of who you marry, what college you go to, what job you take, or what house you buy. There is never a circumstance where you cannot be thankful in, and here is why.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT).
Think About It
Let’s start with a definition: thankfulness is being full of gratitude and appreciation for God’s blessings in life. Those blessings can be things like health, job, house, air conditioning, heat, or food. It can include experiences like a cool breeze on a hot day, watching the snow fall peacefully outside your window, or the sound of rain on a porch. It definitely can include acts of God like the day He saved you, when He answered your prayer, gave you guidance in what to do, or provided encouragement when you really needed it. Thankfulness can also be about the people God has placed in your life: your parents, spouse, children, grandchildren, friends, coworkers, or neighbors. Thankfulness is being glad that something happened or didn’t happen, that something or someone exists. Thankfulness is an attitude of appreciation and gratitude. Every believer should be the most thankful person in their family, at work, at church, or at school.
It is “God’s will” that you be thankful. This is God’s desire, plan, and preferred choice for your life. God wants you to be thankful, not unthankful. He wants you to be a person to experience the power of gratitude and the strength of a life full of appreciation. When you are thankful you are in God’s will. When you are grateful for what He is doing and about to do, you are exactly in the middle of God’s desire for your life.
Why should you be thankful? Here are some reasons.
You are thankful because of who you belong too
If you are a follower of Jesus then you “belong to Christ Jesus.” This means your sins are forgiven, you are on your way to heaven, and you have been given everything you need in life to accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. This means you have significance, value, and meaning in this life. No matter what happens in your life and no matter how hard it may become, you belong to Jesus, you have a home waiting for you in heaven, and the best days of your life are ahead of you! Be thankful!
In Colossians 4, Paul is writing to believers reminding them they have a wonderful Master in God and they belong to a Master who loves them and wants to bless and help them. So Paul writes, “Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven. 2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (Colossians 4:1-2, NLT). Part of your thankfulness is recognizing who you belong to and realizing it is an awesome thing to be a part of God’s family!
You are thankful because of who is at work
Since God is at work “in all circumstances” you can be thankful “in all circumstances.” No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, you can be confident that God is working within that circumstance. Romans 8:28 reminds you of this when it says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (NLT).
Let’s dig a little deeper. The preposition “in” (Greek: en) carries the idea of being or remaining within, with an emphasis on rest and continuation. For example, Jesus told His disciples, “I am sending you out as sheep in [en] the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, ESV). When Jesus was pressured by the crowds and needed time alone the Bible says, “He Himself often withdrew into [en] the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16, NKJV). Just as you can be in the midst of wolves without being devoured by them and be in the wilderness without being alone, you can be “in” difficult circumstances and still be thankful and grateful for what you have, where you have come from, and what God is about to do!
God is at work in your life regardless of the circumstances. Look carefully at what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (CSB). When it feels like your circumstances are putting pressure on you, remember that God is supplying power within you. Regardless of your circumstances, you can be thankful.
You are thankful because of who you are becoming
Even though the word “be” in “be thankful” is a small word, it has a big meaning.
- “Be” means to identify. To “be thankful” means to identify your blessings with God. You are identifying the good things in your life are coming from a good God.
- “Be” means to remain, stand, or stay. To “be thankful” means to remain thankful. Your attitude of gratitude doesn’t change because you don’t have the health you once had. Your spirit of appreciation is consistent even though you may not have the money you once had. You are being thankful. You are learning how to stay thankful even though things may appear to change for the worse. When the devil tries to make you ungrateful, bitter, sour, dissatisfied, and discontent, you are going to stand on the solid rock of thanksgiving before your incredible God!
You are growing in being thankful. You are becoming the most grateful and appreciative person in your family, at work, at school, and everywhere else God takes you. Colossians 2:7 summarizes this by saying, “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (NLT).
You are thankful because of who you represent
As a follower of Jesus you represent Him and His kingdom everywhere you. God wants there to be a distinction between you and the rest of the world. You “belong to Christ Jesus” and it’s “God’s will” for you to be known as a thankful and grateful person. Most people complain about their spouse, gripe about their work, belly-ache about their parents, whine about their kids, complain about their country or government, and whine about their health. Remember who you are in Christ, where God has brought you from, and where God is taking you to. When you walk into a room you represent all-mighty God so talk like it, react like it, pray like it, and let thankfulness fill that room. Be distinct and be different. Ephesians 5:1-4 explains it like this, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God” (NLT).
You are thankful because of who is in charge
When you are “thankful in all circumstances” you are acknowledging and recognizing the sovereignty and eminence of God. You could have complained, worried, or rebelled against God because of your difficult circumstances, but you chose to be thankful because you know God is too wise to make mistakes, too powerful to be stopped and too loving to be unkind.
The person God used to write Psalm 56 was being attacked by people. They were lying about him, spreading rumors, and threatening him. It was a miserable circumstance to be in. But after describing his horrible circumstance he writes in verse 12, “I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. 13 For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light” (NLT). He knew who was ultimately in charge. He knew who could help and provide protection, so he gave thanks to God!
Why does God want you to be thankful? What is the difference between being thankful in something rather than for something? What are you thankful for right now regardless of the circumstance you are in? Which of the reasons above spoke to you the most? Why? This week, intentionally work at being more thankful in words and actions.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing power and work in my life, thank You for Your goodness and for Your blessings over me. Thank You for Your great love and care. Thank You for Your sacrifice so that I might have freedom and life. Forgive me for when I don’t thank you enough, for who You are, for all that You do, for all that You’ve given. Help me to set my eyes and my heart on You every day. Renew my spirit, fill me with Your peace and joy. I love you and I need you, this day and every day. I give You praise and thanks, for You alone are worthy! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.