Thank God in the midst of all circumstances – in everything that happens.
How in the world are we really expected to do that? How could we realistically thank God especially during or after some crisis or tragedy?
And we are not only expected to be thankful in all circumstances, but we are expected to remain continually prayerful and thankful as with a mindset of prayer and thanksgiving.
Not on our own, at least.
The act of giving thanks means we have decided to credit God as being Who He claims. We are able to thank Him or have any bent toward gratitude at all because He is the initiator, leader, director, author, grower, producer, completer of our faith:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Look at what we are asked to do that directly helps us be able to offer thanks. Notice in Hebrews 12:1 we read “let us” throw off everything that hinders.. and “let us” run with perseverance..
We are not expected to do this on our own.
We do it with thanks as part of whatever we lift up to God in prayer. Then we are able to do what the verses say because of the delivering power that giving thanks provides.
We are then able to:
- Recognize the support we have that God gives.
- Not be hindered and crippled by worry.
- Run the race God Himself has prepared and set before us through His loving and careful planning for our good and His glory.
- Run the race God set before us with endurance and success – not always with ease – but endurance and ability to persevere and never completely give up or give in to sin that would be an easier but destructive way.
- Focus our attention on how Jesus provides and grows our faith to further us instead of holding us back.
- Recognize and respond with thanks toward God that He is able to handle anything because Jesus took opposition that now is an example of why we do not ever have to lose heart in or through anything we face.
Independence by Thanksgiving
Though it may seem we are about to drown in something that is quickly rising over our heads, we should not try to pray or be thankful on our own.
Yes, those words sting the independence in me, too.
But remember this: In a way, we are independent because God instructs us to grow up in Christ. We are not to remain as infants, but to grow up and growing up means becoming an adult who is independent, thinks, and acts with maturity and wisdom.
However – with God’s type of dependence we are expected to have on Him, it means we are made even more into a mature adult in Christ as we spend time in His Word and prayer, and telling Him “Thank you” even in and for the most egregious acts against us, and all things whether they seem in our control or not.
We can thank Him by reminding ourselves in front of Him in prayer that we are unable to fix something, that we need Him to create something out of nothing, to make a repair no one else seems able to make, or whatever the need is.
Whatever the difficulty or delay is, we are to surrender it over to the God Who is able, the One whose name is above all names. This is why when we pray in the name of Jesus we are changed, forgiven, redeemed and restored.
Along with that good news, God’s Word encourages us:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Easy? Of course not. We are fallible, impatient, shortsighted people – but we are all of these things and still loved by the God who does not make mistakes, who is patient, able and can see the entire picture before, during and after whatever event is affecting our lives with a purpose we cannot fathom.
Upon these adversities we are to first of all:
- Tell God “Thank you” during and for what is happening, especially that we are thankful He is able to do something when we are not.
- When thankfulness is nowhere to be found – we can tell God we want to be thankful in and for what is happening and need His help to get us to the point of thankful and remain there. He promises to give wisdom without faulting us for not having wisdom. What loving father does not smile when a child asks to be taught something?
I wish I had thankfulness mastered myself. There are circumstances I could not ever imagine thanking God in, or for. It takes a continual turning to God’s grace to remind me He is able and willing to handle any circumstance whether brief or those that do not pass quickly. It takes remembering that my thanks and praise to God in the impossibles is actually my deliverance from worry.
Every day and sometimes moment by moment I have to stop and pray something like this, “Thank You, Father in Heaven, that I have no control over (whatever it is at the time or that is ongoing and currently hitting hard) and that You are able to handle it. I thank and praise You for your ability and willingness to deal with this situation I cannot. I am grateful You will either handle it completely Yourself in the right way and time, or will show me what to do at the right time.”
God Uses Our Thanksgiving to Deliver Us
Something happens in our hearts when we are actually thankful for the tough, horrible thing happening to us.
The thanksgiving is an admittance we can do nothing about some problem, but have learned God can and will.
God begins working in our hearts to help us deal with what is happening in a way that gets us to a solution because we have gained deliverance by thanksgiving and let go of the stressor – that moment we begin to wonder if something is going to work out for our good either now or ever. But, here is the game changer that thankfulness brings us: through thankfulness, we get to where we know God will act for our good though we do not know how. His provision or deliverance, to us, is as good as done.
When we get to this point sooner and sooner at every place of adversity, we are being changed more for the better because of the way God designed thanks to work. God does not need our thanks. We are in need of thanking God as He uses our thanksgiving as a method to deliver us from the sin, including worry, that so easily entangles.
Our thankful hearts begin to focus on worshiping God instead of focusing on trouble. Since we are designed to worship Him and not the things that disturb us, it is natural that the act of offering thanks to God is a source of deliverance. Our thanks become a gift of proof to us we are correctly placing trust, and have traded God our worries for receipt of His promise to be with us, to never leave us, and to work out everything for our good and His glory.