Years ago, when I first read the Scripture in 1Thessalonians 5 v 18; “give thanks in all circumstances”, I interpreted it to mean that I should give thanks for every circumstance in my life. Even for all my challenges, disappointments, and losses. But that is not what the apostle Paul meant here.
Paul is encouraging us to give thanks to God despite the difficult circumstances we might find ourselves in, the challenges facing us and even our lack. But often, this is easier said than done.
In essence, what Paul is encouraging us to do is to look at what is good in our lives and to focus on that, be grateful for what we do have and not dwell on what we don’t have, what has gone wrong or what we have lost. To instead cultivate a heart of gratitude towards God and others — in all circumstances.
For a “glass half-empty” person like me, that is no small “ask”. It is as if my mind is wired to immediately pick up what is wrong, what is missing or what can be improved upon. In other words, the negative in any situation. For example, when someone asks me to give feedback, my immediate response is to point out what is lacking or what can be improved upon. And it’s not that I think I’m perfect or have it all together because I’m not and I don’t.
While this kind of approach may be great for getting a job done efficiently (and all those who are task oriented, will agree), it is not so helpful in building healthy relationships (because it hurts those who are more relationship focused).
So, I have had to learn over time (and sometimes the hard way) to first give thanks for what I do have, what has been done right, what has been achieved — before turning my attention to the rest. This applies in my relationship with God, my husband, my children, and everyone else.
I have also learned that I don’t need to be happy nor my life perfect for me to be grateful. I still have so much to be grateful for. Let’s just start with the fact that I know Christ and He has given me eternal life. Then there’s my husband, my children, my family including my spiritual family, the fact that I have a job and a place to call home, … the list goes on and on. Really, when I start giving thanks it is hard to stop.
Paul goes on to say in v 18 “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. It is pleasing to God when we give Him thanks, but I don’t believe that God wants us to do so only because He deserves it. Something happens when we choose to be grateful. It changes our perspective, our thought patterns and ultimately, our actions. For the better.
What are you thankful for today?
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