Thankful in All Circumstances? Really?
Fog Bank and Breaking Sun, Sullivan, Maine
Sometimes it is difficult to be thankful. Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes we become battered, beaten down, and immobilized. Sometimes the way ahead becomes too heavy, dark, and obscured by uncertainties, difficulties. impossibilities, disappointments, fear, or grief. Sometimes we are enshrouded and overwhelmed with despair. Yet, God promises hope and strength in our despair and weakened states. He does not minimize but understands our angst and has so much compassion that He gave His son to redeem us and our circumstances.
When we turn our pain filled faces, furrowed brows, fear filled thoughts, and empty hearts away from our troubles and seek the light of His face, the reality of His love shines through the murkiness. Scripture conveys the idea that God is invested in us, is constantly aware of us, cares about us, and can be found in our circumstance. It is crucial that we remember Him and His mighty redemptive acts on our behalf.
Thankfulness is a running Biblical theme. Joshua gave Israel that hope when he told them: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) Christ gave that same assurance and comfort to his disciples: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”( Matthew 28:20) When speaking at Athens, the Apostle Paul proclaimed that God “is actually not far from each one of us, for In him we live and move and have our being..” (Acts 17:27-28 (ESV) The Psalmist reminds us that “This is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it.” King David exhorted his people to“ Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.. (1 Chronicles 16:11-12) And the Apostle Paul urges us to “ give thanks in all circumstances.”
Gratitude is hardly the first thought we have when facing difficulties or injustices. The Apostle Peter addresses that idea with the early Christians as they suffered persecution. He encouraged them to be watchful, to stand firm in the faith, and to not become ensnared by anxiety but to cast their anxieties on God because He cared for them: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:7-11)
As our Sovereign, God is for us. He gives us good things. Because through Christ He experienced all the temptations and trials known to man, He remembers that we are but fragile souls wrapped in bits of dust and promises to help us deal with our complexities, anxieties, and confusion. Turning toward Him brings us to the light and warmth of our Creator’s grace and love. Even in dark times, we can trust His character as He shepherds us above the valley mists to still waters and green pastures while we sing the Psalmist’s song: “Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good.” His mercies are new everyday. They bring assurance, strength, comfort, peace and joy even when life is heavy.