IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS Andy Hollifield 12-16-16
(1 Thessalonians 5:18). In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Short, simple, and to the point but hard to do a lot of times. That verse does not say for every “good” thing give thanks, it says in EVERY THING give thanks. That means for all the good and bad both. The apostle Paul also said in Ephesian 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God…” Again, not giving thanks for all “good” things but for ALL things. That also includes all the bad things. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that ALL things work together “for good” to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All three of the verses I have mentioned are super sweet when everything is turning up roses in our life but all three are a lot harder to swallow when it seems like we are just getting the thorns. When things are really tough it is hard to give thanks. It’s easy to talk about being thankful right now but in the middle of those tough storms of life, when it seems that you’ve not seen the sun or stars in many days and it seems that all hope that you should be saved is taken away (Acts 27:20) It’s a whole lot different. God will send his promise and his angel (Acts 27:22 & 23). He hasn’t forgotten where you are and even though you can’t see him, he can and does still see you. In those times, it is hard to give thanks. I look back at some of the storms in my life; loss of a child through miscarriage, surgeries, loss of my career by a surgery gone bad, the death of my dad at only 63, and a lot of other things and in those times giving thanks wasn’t foremost in my mind. I know that my God is sovereign and he does know what is best for me. That doesn’t mean I always have to like it. I never really liked turpentine or castor oil either but mom used them as needed when I was a kid. They always helped me get better but I didn’t appreciate them at the time. I never even thought of thanking mom for making me take them. Psalms 103:14 says “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” God hasn’t forgot what he made us out of. The preceding verses in Psalms 103 talk about God’s pity and mercy towards us his children that fear him. Verse 17 of that chapter says that his mercy is “from everlasting to everlasting”. He knows that the things he allows to come our way will sometimes knock the props out from under us. He knows that sometimes we wind up dazed and confused and begin to doubt. The secret is that when these times come, we have him as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. VERY present! Not just a little bit but VERY present (Psalms 46:1). Isn’t that a great blessing. The creator of the universe and chief engineer and manufacturer of our mortal bodies is very present with us at all times. He said he would NEVER leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). If you remember, Satan had to ask God to remove the hedge around Job before he could even afflict him and even then, God set him limits as to what he could do. God has a hedge around you and your trial may not even be the affliction of Satan but may be just the molding and firing of the potter. One of my favorite sayings from the bible is simply this; “it came to pass”. It didn’t come to stay but it came to pass. That statement is made 452 times in the scriptures. What you are going through today at some point in time will be a part of your past. You will be able, through prayer, to look back and see how God’s hand was working in your life. You may not understand it all but you will see the evidence of God’s hand at work. That may not help you today but down the road it will. Trials will make you either “better” or “bitter”. I know that sounds cliché but it’s true and it is our choice as to which effect they have on us. Someone somewhere is watching your life. They have heard what you have said about your God and now they are watching you to see if you trust him even in the bad times. If you do, they will be drawn to him eventually by what they see. If they see a lack of trust when things get rough in your life, it will likely be a hindrance to them coming to the Lord.
As hard as it may be, giving thanks “for” and “in” all things is something we all have to eventually do. As was mentioned in Romans 8:28 earlier, it says “for good”. All these things good and bad alike work together for our benefit. Most of us have had some type of retirement, profit-sharing, or pension plan. None of those things benefitted us at the time we had them. We may have suffered hardship during the time we had them but later on we reap the benefits of having them. It is the same in our spiritual life. We may not see the good or see that God is doing anything, but just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I will close with this verse Jeremiah 7:17 “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!