In today’s world, it can be difficult to look at our circumstances and see the good in the tough times we experience. Yet, God’s Word tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, even when it feels impossible to do.
A Greek word for thanks is “eucharisteo,” which means to express gratitude or be grateful. It appears in the New Testament and was used by Jesus in Luke 22:19 in the Upper Room when he broke bread and gave thanks to His Heavenly Father. The root word ‘charis’ means grace, and ‘chara’ means joy. This means that our thankfulness should be based on God’s grace and joy, and God’s grace is the only thing that can bring true joy. It is not based on our changing and temporary circumstances.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica to encourage and support them in the face of opposition and suffering: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This charge from Paul challenges our emotions and human instincts; we may think, “How can I even do that, given what I’m going through?” Here are some points from the passage that can help us:
- It isn’t always realistic to find ways to be thankful for the challenges we face on earth, but we aren’t called to be thankful for them – we are to be thankful in and through We know we will face hardships here on earth (John 16:33). The charge by Paul is to maintain a certain perspective through them.
- Giving thanks is God’s will for us. We always want to follow the will of God, as Paul instructs.
- Giving thanks during hardships is rooted in God’s grace and joy, not in our temporary circumstances and challenges. God’s grace is firm and eternal. We can count on it no matter what.
- Giving thanks is necessary in good times, not just bad. We often come to realize our need for God during tough times. However, we may forget to be thankful when we are going through good times. Our human nature, like the Israelites, is to forget what God has done and the promises that He has given us. We think that we – our work, intellect, decisions, etc. – are the reason for the good times. Giving thanks in all circumstances, good and bad, is the charge.
Our thankfulness is rooted in God’s grace and joy, and that will never change.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. – Habakkuk 3:17-19
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.