Even when I hurt, Lord, I will give You thanks –
not for the painful circumstance, but in the midst of it.
I know You are good, You are with me, and You are for me.
Scripture for today: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
We’ve all enjoyed mountaintop experiences when everything lines up perfectly, and it seems as if nothing but goodness, sunshine and favor rain down upon us. In those moments, it’s easy to praise God and give thanks! But when things don’t turn out right, bad reports come, hurtful situations occur, or harmful circumstances storm our lives, it’s not so easy to lift our voices in thanksgiving.
How do we – and why should we – be thankful when horrific situations happen?
Note: the instruction in our scripture today does not say “FOR” everything give thanks. It says “IN” everything give thanks.
We won’t give thanks to God for cancer. God is not the giver of sickness and disease. He is the giver of life, and of every good and perfect gift. We give thanks to God for life and healing in the midst of sickness. We won’t give thanks to God for a broken relationship. God is not the destroyer. He is the Restorer of the breach, the mender of the broken-hearted. We give thanks to God for forgiveness, compassion, and the mending of the relationship. We won’t give thanks to God for addictions. God is not the tempter. He is the Deliverer. We give thanks to God for freedom, endurance and peace – even while temptations rage within us. We won’t give thanks to God for lack or loss. God is not a thief. He is our Provider. We give thanks to God that every need is met in Christ Jesus.
Our thankfulness “in” all things doesn’t have so much to do with the circumstances we are facing, but has everything to do with our understanding the character of God and our faith and trust in Him. Do we really believe God is who He says He is, even when the world around us seems to be falling apart?
I miscarried our third child in 2004. That week is forever etched in my mind. I endured in faith, believing God could heal my body and our baby as I lay in bed day after day, test after test, waiting for the doctor’s confirmation of my hopes. When the doctor called with the last results – that the baby had passed – my hopes, desires, dreams were obliterated. I fell to the floor in a heap of defeated mourning, so overwhelmed by death…unable to make even a sound as all life seemed to rush out of me with every exhaustive, explosive exhale… But deep within me, the life of God was real and true. I had renewed my mind with the promises of God for years. I knew God – not as the destroyer, but as the Creator; not as the thief, but as the Giver; not as the author of sickness, but as the Healer.
Somehow I was able to raise to my knees, lift my hands, and with soaking tears falling to the floor, thank God for allowing my body to become pregnant, thank Him for the little precious life whom I had mothered – even for those short weeks, thank Him for His healing, His ability, His goodness, His love, His mercy, His good gifts… I literally said out loud, “God, You caused my body to become pregnant. I thank You for that. You’ve done it three times for me, and I know you will do it again! I know You did not take this baby from me. Satan is the destroyer, the thief, the killer. But You, Lord, You are the Giver of Life – the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I thank you. I will become pregnant again, and we will give birth to our fourth child.”
I was not thanking God FOR the miscarriage – but IN the midst of the miscarriage, I thanked God for that baby and for our next baby. By embracing thankfulness, I denied myself the opportunity to remain in a place of overwhelming sorrow. Thankfulness changes our focus from our loss and lack to the goodness of God. It takes our eyes off the problem, and helps us see the possibilities and solutions. It translates us from a place of defeat to a position of victory.
We must know who God is and the promises He has made in order to be able to give thanks to Him IN all things. We must know He is, and He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. It is in knowing Him that we are then able to allow thankfulness to bubble up from the very depths of our spirits in the midst of life’s hardest battles. And I believe a thankful heart is the very start of our journey to victory – for it diverts our eyes from the problem, the hurt, the lack, the loss, and forces us to focus on the good, the promise, the hope, the answer.
No matter what you face today, choose to give thanks with a grateful heart – not for the mess you may be working through – but in the very midst of it. For it is God alone who can take you from that mess into your very best.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Psalm 107:1; Hebrews 13:5; Romans 8:31; James 1:17; Psalm 103:3; Psalm 40:17; Philippians 4:19; Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 11:6