With the holidays approaching, I have been giving a lot of thought to thankfulness. Taking inventory of everything that God has done in and through me. Showing appreciation for all the blessings that he has given me, and I was reminded of this verse.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
For a long time, I misunderstood this scripture to mean “For all things give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I honestly struggled with this scripture, If I’m honest, because I found it hard to be thankful FOR all the things that I had in my life. Sure it’s easy for me to be thankful for the good things; it was the bad things that I wrestle with. I felt ungrateful and guilty. I thought God expected me to be thankful FOR ALL things and I couldn’t be thankful FOR everything in my life.
I recently lost my grandmother. She was a bedrock to me. I have to get used to a whole host of “new normals,” as I call them. Holidays without her, milestones missed, not being able to call and hear the voice that always brought me peace. I have had to get used to a life without her and it’s not been easy. There is a huge void there that sometimes feels like it will never be filled. I miss her terribly. I can’t be thankful that she is gone. I’m not thankful for the things that she is missing with my children and the things that my children and I are missing with her. I’m not thankful that she is gone; I selfishly want her back.
I am witnessing my friends’ parents starting to age and get sick and enter into a season of life where they are having to role reverse and take care of the ones that once cared for them. I’m not thankful for the hurt and the stress that is causing. I’m not thankful for the tension and the strain that it has brought upon families. l see people going through divorce, and they are now having to spend time away from their children during the holidays and the hurt that this “new normal” is causing. I see addiction, sickness and disease fracturing families. I’m looking at all the heartache that these things are bringing, and I’m like, “God how can I be thankful for this?”
He started dealing with me on that and had me re-read the scripture. The scripture says “IN every thing give thanks, not FOR every thing give thanks.” This was liberating for me. I had a deeper revelation of what he meant. He doesn’t expect me to be thankful for everything that I have to endure. He does, however, want me to look IN those situations and find things that bring him glory. When I got hold of this revelation, things changed!
What that meant for me was this. I’m not thankful for the death of my grandmother, but I remember looking at her hands on her death bed and being thankful for all the lives she touched with those hands. I’m not thankful for the illness that’s causing my friends to have to care for their parents, but I am thankful that they raised a child that is willing to lay down their own comforts and needs for the love of someone else. You see, I don’t have to be thankful for all things, but I can find something to be thankful for in all things and that brings glory to God.
Are you in a season of life where you are having a hard time finding things to be thankful for? If so, I encourage you: Start to look deeper into those areas of your life that you are struggling with. When we start looking deeper into our situations and circumstances and start finding things within them to thank God for, we take the power away from the enemy. We have taken something that the enemy intended to bring hurt and harm to us and given glory to God. That’s when we allow him to work those things together for our good.