A verse that has been stretching me recently is Ephesians 5:20 AMP:
At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
How many times are we supposed to give thanks? All. And for how many things? Everything. Wow. That’s a tall order! I don’t know about you, but historically when someone hurts me it’s not been my first thought to give thanks for that… yet that’s what this scripture is telling us to do. So someone is mean to us… we give thanks? Yep. Can’t pay the bills… we give thanks? That’s right!
Getting the Bigger Picture
Here’s the thing, God doesn’t want us faking it, He just wants us getting the bigger picture, meanwhile the enemy is working overtime to keep us focused on our hurts and offenses… whatever the situation is.
Perhaps the situation you’re in is a character building opportunity like an opportunity to love someone unlovable, to walk in humility when your flesh is screaming to respond in pride, or to forgive when you’re tempted to be offended.
Or the situation may be a future ministry opportunity like going through financial or marital difficulties so you can minister hope to those going through difficulties once you’ve come out the other side.
There’s lots of possibilities and it’s likely to be some combination of things. The point is God’s plans for us are good. And as we walk submitted to Him, nothing can come into our lives but through His hand. So we can trust if it’s happening in our world, there’s a reason… and it’s not bad even if it may appear so in the moment. But knowing the truth that it is for good allows us to walk in obedience to Ephesians 5:20 because we can truly give thanks for whatever it is God is working in our lives.
A Stumbling Block
I think one of our biggest struggles in giving thanks in trying moments is our lack of understanding of why something is happening and our inability to control it. Job 38:1-40:2 makes it clear it is not our job to question God. It is our job to trust Him because He is worthy. His plans for us are good – that doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen, it simply means that the direction of a life submitted to God is beautiful and good.
Let me give an example of what I mean. If I’m going through a difficult time in my marriage, I may be having difficulty thanking God for that situation. However if I knew that the situation would be short lived, that God was going to not just restore my marriage but make it something that was truly a blessing, and that God would position me to encourage others going through similar marital difficulties… would I still have trouble giving thanks? Probably not as much. (This example is one I walked through personally, and it was when I completely released control to God and praised Him and thanked Him in the midst of it that breakthrough came.)
Often what we struggle with is that we don’t “know” what’s going to happen… the problem is, that really means we’re struggling with issues of control and trusting God. We need to repent for trying to control – trying to be god of our life – and resubmit to God… trust Him and His promises, which are good. (Ironically too often we try to control things, it goes awry, and then we get mad at God and blame Him – where if we’d just let Him be God in the first place rather than trying to usurp His role we’d be much better off!)
So I challenge you, look at your own world… what areas have you not been thanking God for? Often the thanks is the key to breakthrough, so shift your heart to a place of thankgiving. If you’re having difficultly getting there tell God that and ask Him to help you get there. He is faithful.
Lord, forgive us for letting our eyes be so filled with our hurts and circumstances that we miss Your plan. Help us to walk in a trusting, thankful lifestyle – wholly submitted to You. Let our joy be a testament to Your faithfulness. Be glorified in our lives!