In everything, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
At first glance, it’s tempting to write this Scripture off as being a little over the top. Sure, we should be thankful. And yes! We should thank God for the good things. But what about the bad stuff? How are we supposed to give thanks for those things? So, full disclaimer, I don’t have the perfect answer to that question. I mean, I know the right theological things to say. And I realize that God’s ways are higher than our ways. We have to trust God is working all things together for our good. But that’s, of course, a lot easier said than done. Right? For me, to claim spiritual perfection in this area would be a lie. Even though I’ve seen the Red Sea parted and walked across on dry land many times, I still get discouraged.
Is It Cancer?
But sometimes, I get myself together and remember things that correct my attitude. For example, it doesn’t make sense to thank God when you get the word your mother has a very concerning lump on her chest. I certainly didn’t. At the time, I lived over 2,000 miles away from my parents. Mom had discovered the lump and finally made that agonizing appointment to find out if it was malignant or not. And guess what? The lump itself was not cancerous. It was just a calcium deposit! But lurking beneath that benign calcium deposit was a silent, deadly chunk of cancer. You know, the kind of cancer that doesn’t usually get noticed until it’s too late. If it hadn’t been for the scary lump of calcium, the doctors likely would not have spotted the cancer in time.
Thank God for the Lump
I don’t believe in coincidences! I think miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes miracles are even disguised as scary lumps of calcium. And so, I’ve learned to thank God for the lumps, the bumps, the disturbing reports, and unexpected, weird things that don’t make sense. Mom has beat breast cancer twice now! And there have been many miracles and stories of God’s grace in between. She’d be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy. But she’d also be the first to tell you it was miraculous.
I think miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes miracles are even disguised…Tweet
I’ve learned to thank God for the lumps, the bumps, the disturbing reports, and unexpected, weird things that don’t make sense.Tweet
When God Seems too Demanding
Has God ever asked you do to something scary or odd? It’s hard to give thanks when God calls you out to walk on the waves or pick up a serpent by the tail. Hopefully not literally, because if God asks me to pick up a snake by the tail, I’m going to need more than a mustard seed of faith. But I do recall a strange time when the Holy Ghost spoke to me while driving on a snowy interstate. I was several hours into a twelve-hour drive and just wanted to get where I was going and get some much-needed sleep.
I was in the middle of Nowheresville when the Holy Ghost spoke clearly and said to pull off at the approaching exit if it could even be called an exit. There was one little broken-down gas station with boards over the windows. It looked like a haven for serial killers. I mean, it wasn’t the kind of place you’d want to hang out for a few hours. For what felt like forever, I kept asking God for permission to please get back on the road. I even had the hubris to complain and tell God this whole situation was ridiculous. Man, I really am dumb sometimes! Finally, the release came, and I eased back onto the interstate with a sigh of relief. Within minutes I was bogged down in traffic, passing a horrific thirty car pile-up! The Lord protected me from being in that collision despite my rotten attitude.
Because of that, I’ve learned to be thankful for unexpected inconveniences, although with some hiccups. Again, I’m not claiming perfection, but the lesson has been learned. It makes me wonder what things irritate me right now that I’ll become profoundly grateful for later on down the road? Lord, help me to be thankful in every situation. You know, we’re hard on the Israelites because of their short memories with God. It’s like, really? You get heavenly manna every day, and that wasn’t good enough for you guys? You got a little thirsty and forgot God brings water from rocks? Come on, guys! Oh, but we forget too! We forget the provision, mercy, grace, favor, blessings, deliverance, and miracles God has given.
Every year about this time, we hear the sermons preached and read the articles about how we should be thankful all the time and not just at Thanksgiving. And we try to maintain that mindset. But we don’t always meet that standard. Unthankfulness breeds bitterness, contempt, disloyalty, disunity, pettiness, and a host of other sins. If you’ve ever been stabbed in the back by someone you’ve loved and cared for, you were experiencing the culmination of an unthankful heart. Remember how much that hurt you and refuse to be that person. Choose gratitude, and you will stand out in a world full of hardheartedness. Let’s all work together to be thankful by reminding one another of past blessings.
Choose gratitude, and you will stand out in a world full of hardheartedness. Let’s all work together to be thankful by reminding one another of past blessings.Tweet