Giving all things?

 Christ-followers are instructed in I Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks...but not just to "give thanks".  Scripture tells us to give thanks in all things. 

I can easily understand and deliver on the command when things are "good"...aka, the way I want things to turn out.  But what about those things that we interpret as "bad"?  Those things that make our life uncomfortable or painful or downright tragic.  Surely God has an exception clause that permits us to skip the thanksgiving in those things!

Not at all.  He is very clear about the in all things part.  Give thanks.  Whoa.  How can He expect us to do that?  When that red light makes us late for an appointment?  Or the promotion goes to someone else? Or we are betrayed, mistreated, persecuted?  Or we realize that our dream of parenthood is never going to come true?  Or someone we love with all our heart is gone? Or all of the above?

Maybe we could choke out the thanks easier if we thought "these things just happen."  If we cut God some slack, so to speak, and that we have to accept that " this is life"  and we have to take our lumps like everybody else.  That wouldn't be easy but it seems like we could learn to accept bad things if we viewed them as an unfortunate twist of fate. Then we could make the best of it.

But God clearly doesn't want to leave that as an option.  He tells us not only the "what" and the "when"  but also the "why."  Give thanks.  In all things....for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Stops us in our tracks, doesn't it?  Those things that are not what we prayed for.  Those things that complicate our lives, that hurt us, that inconvenience us, that seem to go against all we would consider good and blessed and right.  He wants us to thank Him for those things because they are from Him.

Wait!  No!  Surely I don't mean that cancer and infertility and divorce and tragedies are from God!  Well, while He is not the author of evil and He only gives good gifts, He alone is sovereign.  He has the power to stop or remove any and everything from our lives.  So if something comes into the life of a Christian, it only got there after being filtered through His hands.  His loving, sovereign, omnipotent hands.

Not only allowed through His hands, but especially designed for my benefit and for His glory.  Gulp. That's hard.  But that's where faith comes in.  And the giving of thanks in all things.  He wants me to trust Him and His word.  He tells me that all things work together for my good and His glory.  He assures me that all His ways are loving and faithful.  And He promises that He doesn't withhold anything good from those that walk in Him.

So, that's how I can thank Him.  No matter what it looks like from my perspective.  I can trust His perspective.  And thank Him.  Because He is always working for my good and His glory.  No matter what it looks like to me.

In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.