Have you ever heard a Christians say, “give thanks in all circumstances” and wanted to give them a black-eye? I know that I have…many times. You and I both know they’re only trying to help. And that’s OK. They were only trying to help and I truly appreciate it. So why did I get so angry when they were trying to help? They weren’t doing anything wrong.
This morning the Lord led me to the answer. The Scripture that I mentioned in the first sentence is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Here it is below (I’ll start with verse 16).
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
So we can see that what our helpful-minded friends are saying is actually true. And it’s the Word of God. So why do we get so irritated when we hear this? First of all, I’m mad because I don’t believe that God is good when my circumstances aren’t what I want them to be. No one likes pain…no one. And when we’re in pain, we look to God with a variation of the question “where were you” or “where are you?” The biggest question is “why?” But we aren’t irritated at our helpful-minded friend. We are irritated at the Lord because we are mad at him. Now I could get into some, frankly, wonderful theological issues that are relevant. But that’s not what I want to do here. I want to keep it simple. That’s one of the things I love about Scripture, it’s simple if you read it in context and study it appropriately. And the beautiful thing is that everyone can read and understand if they just spend the time reading it. So let’s keep this simple.
So people tell us to give thanks in all circumstances and we get mad at them because we’re truly mad at God. But we’re mad at God because we have lost correct perspective. We’ve lost our 20/20 spiritual vision. You see, 20/20 spiritual vision is found just one chapter before our irritating verse. We’re mad because our vantage point has somehow relocated from God’s point of view to the street (or the world). Yes, we are in the world, but Christians have the ability to see things from a God-centered point of view. In our pain we have a tendency to remove the glasses and see the world as man sees the world. We see the pain, the anger, the maliciousness, and the suffering. And while we can’t ignore those things, we can see them with a certain perspective. God’s perspective is how we need to see every good time and every challenge. We must see these things in light of what God says. Here’s the verse in chapter four I was talking about. The Apostle Paul wrote this before he instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances. It’s 1 Thesssalonians 4:15-18. Here it is.
“For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep…Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Here’s the perspective: we are to view all things worldly from the vantage point of temporary. Everything is temporary. The pain, the struggle, the good times, the tragedies, the suffering. It’s all temporary. But knowing that alone doesn’t bring all the comfort we need. We must also realize that God loves justice and that He will make all things right one day. Those two understandings is what will keep your heart hopeful in the most hopeless of times. Remember, if you can just barely hang-on to your faith during a difficult time, you are still attached. Any contact at all is attachment to your hope in the Lord, that this is temporary and that He will rectify your pain and your situation.
Whatever you’re facing today, from what vantage point are you seeing things? Are you seeing things from a logical and worldly point of view? Or are you seeing things from God’s point of view? Remind yourself that your pain and suffering is temporary and trust that God will make all things right. It may or may not be in your earthly life, but decide to be OK with that. Seeing things from God’s vantage point destroys the wall of fear and confusion in front of you. Decide right now to be content with your pain and to trust God in all of it. When you’ve decided to do that, then and only then can you give Him thanks in all circumstances.