“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)
One of the most common questions people have is about finding God’s will for their lives. As believers, we all want to walk in the center of God’s will. While there are times when God’s will can be difficult to find, there are other times when it is clear. What we see in this passage is one of those times when it is clear. We are told that it is always God’s will for us to give thanks. This is something that we never have to wonder about. Giving thanks is always God’s will for believers.
As believers, we are to be thankful regardless of the circumstances that come into our lives. We may wonder how this is possible when so many bad circumstances come into our lives. It is important for us to see here that we are not told to give thanks for all things. Instead, we are told to give thanks in all things.
There are some things that happen in our lives that are so terrible there is no way we can give thanks for them. However, believers can give thanks even during the hardest of times because of Jesus Christ.
The key to being able to give thanks in every circumstance is to focus on something that is greater than our circumstances. For believers, the greatest thing for us to focus on is Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. As believers, we have to learn to preach the Gospel to ourselves. As we preach the Gospel to ourselves, we are reminded of what Christ has done for us, who we are in Christ and the future we have with Christ. As we do this, we should be overwhelmed at the greatness of the Gospel and this will lead us to be thankful no matter what is going on in our lives.
The salvation that the Gospel provides is a past, present and future event. In the past, I was justified when I believed on Christ. In the present, I am being sanctified through Christ. In the future, I will be glorified with Christ. To preach the Gospel to ourselves, we think about it in terms of past, present and future.
In the past, Jesus died for me. Jesus took the punishment that my sins deserved. There was nothing that compelled Him to do this except His great love for me. In the past, Jesus saved me from the punishment for my sins when I repented and believed on His name. There is now no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus. In the past, Jesus has answered many prayers for me. There are very specific things I can point to in the past and say that I know Jesus heard my prayers and answered them in exactly the way I prayed them.
In the present, Jesus is still working in me to free me from the power of sin. He who began a good work in me, will continue it until Christ returns (Phil 1:6). In the present, Jesus is with me. He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me (Heb 13:5). This enables me to boldly say that since the Lord is my helper I will not let fear dominate my life (Heb 13:6). In the present, Jesus still hears my prayers. The circumstances of my life don’t change the fact that Jesus hears and answers prayers. In the present, Jesus is still taking care of me. If I can make myself look beyond the circumstances, I will be able to see Jesus’ hand at work in my life.
In the future, Jesus will finally and fully free me from the power and presence of sin. When this day comes, I will be in a place of perfection where there is no more pain, sorrow or parting. All the pain of this life will give way to the glory of that place. At this point, we’ll fully understand what Paul meant when he said that the suffering of this present life couldn’t be compared to the glory of the next life (Rom 8:18). In the future, Jesus will work all things that come into my life for my good and His glory (Rom 8:28). The context of Romans 8:28 is that of suffering. Christ is so great that He not only works good things for our good and His glory but He also works bad things for our good and His glory. That means that even though my present circumstances really are bad, somehow and some way, Jesus will bring good out of it.
These things are absolute. These are Gospel certainties. There is nothing in the world that can change these things or stop them from happening. The believer in Jesus Christ can look at these truths, preach the Gospel to themselves and then give thanks no matter what the circumstances of their life are. The only way we can be thankful in every circumstance that may come into our lives is by focusing on something that is greater than anything this world has to offer. Everything in this world can be taken or destroyed. Only the things that come from Christ are eternal and can allow gratitude to flow naturally out of our lives regardless of the circumstances