I’ve challenged myself, and am therefore challenging you, during the next eight weeks of restricted social interactions because of COVID-19 precautions, to list something every day that you are thankful for.
It’s a good habit to ingrain any time, but particularly now that our routines have been disrupted and inconvenience and fear tempt us toward self-pity.
Many years ago, I was struggling to make sense of being betrayed by someone close to me. The pain and despair was all-consuming. Even though I drew tightly to God and felt Him near, I was still a wreck every minute of every day.
A pastor attempting to shepherd me through that crisis asked, “Would you like to know God’s will for your life?”
I mean, of course! Who wouldn’t, right?
I thought it was a trick question with a flippant punchline, but he had an actual, genuine answer:
“Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Let’s dissect that:
“Be joyful…in all circumstances,” not, “for,” all circumstances.
So, rotten, lousy, unfair, painful things will happen to you, but you still must give thanks amid those trials.
Because thankfulness demonstrates several important things to God:
- Your submission to His authority in your life
- Your gratitude for what He’s already done in your life
- Your awareness He’s brought you through other challenges before
- Your humility to accept His sovereignty and wisdom in all things
“Pray continually,” keeps you connected to God (John 15:5), because apart from Him “you can do nothing.”
God’s will, “for you,” is personal and applies directly when you are “in Christ Jesus.”
If you count yourself as a disciple of Christ, you are trusting and claiming His perfection and holiness as your own. You therefore should have an eternal mindset and focus upward toward Him and outward toward others, not inward on your own circumstances.
The Bible is filled with just such encouragement for every experience we encounter.