Tell me something. How do you come to the throne of Grace? Are you on bended knee? Is it during your meditation time? Could it be only when you experience glad tidings? Or are you one of those persons who only call on God when in a sarcastic mannerism (and forgive me for this expression) …when all hell breaks loose?
God’s Word says in 1st Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
So, what in the world did the Apostle Paul mean when he admonished the Thessalonians to be thankful in everything. OOPS! Did you get that? Go back and read it again. The scripture says to give thanks IN everything…NOT…give thanks FOR everything. So, yes, you are allowed to give thanks when all hell breaks loose. That’s because sometimes mankind is so stubborn that God must make a donkey (I would rather use the euphemism for ‘donkey’, but this is a family-rated blog) speak to our willfulness. (See Numbers 22:28-39.)
The Apostle Paul was saying that things could be worse. That life is full of ups and downs. But God is with us through it all. I’m a witness to that very truth. Once when I had to make a choice to either pay my monthly tithes to my church or to use the money to finance my next mission trip abroad, reluctantly I paid my tithes and unpacked my suitcase. To my surprise, several members in the congregation who had funded some of my mission trips in the past, heard that I was not going on my next trip due to lack of finances, and they miraculously provided all the money I needed to make the journey to St Petersburg, Russia.
But that’s not the end of the story. While in Russia, all hell broke loose. I lost my wallet; fell down some unevenly constructed stairs, twice; made an awkward comment and displayed photos of my newly built church building in the USA to a Russian pastor who held his church under a bridge and who commented…what a waste… (he was referencing the expenses used on a building rather than in helping the poor and needy). Bad scenes all around! I should have stayed in bed!
But then, hope arrived!
Later, I realized how my actions and mishaps were drawing attention away from why my team had come to Russia in the first place. We had come to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and to extend compassion, love and supplies to the administrators and children at the orphan homes there that our USA organization supported. I prayed for forgiveness for drawing attention to myself and asked God to temper my fate and order my steps in his service. I ended my prayer by offering thanksgivings in knowing that all things work together for good to then that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
My wallet was recovered. It had fallen under my bed in my hotel and the housekeeper placed it on the nightstand in tack. I learned not to display pictures of prosperity to those less fortunate while on mission trips. I grew in grace, humility and strength while serving in this capacity. I learned that we can be thankful in prosperity as well as adversity. I realized that I had no reason to blame God or anyone else for my actions. Knowing that Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God in everything. And for that, I can rejoice.
The misunderstanding comes in those two words: Give thanks IN everything vs. FOR everything. So, my prayer for all my readers is that the Holy Spirit will make it possible for everyone to be thankful in all things. Knowing that we will only be able to do this if our gratitude is anchored in You. Amen and Amen!
Scripture Lesson: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
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