GIVING THANKS IN ALL THINGS AND FOR ALL THINGS
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Th 5:18 ESV)
“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20 ESV)
Give thanks in all circumstances? How can God possibly ask me to do such a thing (1 Thessalonians 5:18)? Is God really requiring me to give thanks when I’m sick, lose my job, am struggling financially, or am discouraged? The reality is that God is asking us to give thanks in all circumstances—even the hard ones—because such an act of gratitude expresses our faith and trust in His goodness. When we thank God in hard times, we show that our life is not found in the fleeting joys or pains of this life, but in God Himself. We express with the Psalmist, God’s love is even better than life itself (Ps 63:3); God truly is better than the pleasures of this world. Remembering this helps us to give thanks to God in everything.
Some will stop here and point out that 1 Thess 5:18 does not ask us to give things FOR everything, but only IN all things. They will say that because this is so, we don’t have to give thanks for the hardships of life, but only that God is good as we go through them. However, the reality is that the Bible commands us not only to give thanks IN everything, it also commands to give thanks FOR everything—Ephesians 5:20 makes this clear (“giving thanks always and FOR everything to God…”). How can this be? How can God call us to give thanks FOR everything? Can we really be expected to give thanks FOR the painful and horrible things in our life?
The answer is yes. We can give thanks for even the tragic events in our life, as we remember that God is good and sovereign in bringing them about. God is not the author of evil, but uses it for His purposes—He causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). In light of this, we can thank God for the hard things of life even if we don’t understand why they possibly could happen. This occurs as we see events with what G.K. Beale calls the ‘wide-angle lens.’ We have to view events in light of God’s present rule and reign over everything in our lives. As we taste and believe in this in our heart and give thanks to God for even the hard events, we are filled with joy and drawn near to God.
Here’s what Beale in his own words from his commentary on 1 Thess 5:18:
“we do not thank God for bad events narrowly viewed in and of themselves, but we should thank him for such events as they are viewed in the “wide-angle lens” as part of his plan to sanctify us and to glorify himself… [T]he key is in recognizing that Christians do not rejoice in such events in the “ordinary sense” the way the world rejoices. As in 1:6, Paul’s point is that we should have the attitudes of joy and thanks in response to whatever ups and downs we face. He has in mind a continual attitude of being aware of God’s presence. Such awareness will result in our ability to rejoice in whatever good or difficult things cross our paths under God’s sovereign hand, to thank God for all these things and to pray for our needs and the needs of others. As Paul notes in 5:18, thanksgiving has its ultimate source of being in Christ Jesus.”
-G.K. Beale “Commentary on Thessalonians,” pg. 171.
2 replies on “Giving Thanks In All Things and For All Things (1 Thess 5:18; Eph 5:20)”
The choice of the word difficult as apposed to Bad is interesting.
Soft peddling bad. Is it because God is good and Satan (evil) is bad?
I (like most) have experienced “difficult” times, for me I believe in God, I don’t believe he care for me or most that are on the earth.
Have a wonderful day
God has love for every one of us in this world he even allow his own son Jesus christ to go through the most difficult thing in life to carry the sins of the whole world