Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
We might sometimes hear of people saying that we ought to give thanks for everything that happens. It sounds very spiritual, even biblical. But it is mistaken. It inserts a three letter word in texts like this instead of the two letter word. It suggests the Bible is telling us to give thanks ‘for’ all circumstances, whereas we are to give thanks ‘in’ all circumstances.
Only a small word but it leads to a very big difference. Can we truly urge a parent who has just lost a child to give thanks for that very loss? Can we tell a person just diagnosed with a serious illness to give thanks for that illness? Some might say we should, but it is not only unwise but untrue.
To give thanks for an evil or bad thing borders on blasphemy in that it comes very close to seeing God as the source of such things. It is a denial of reality, maybe an attempt to short circuit our pain and drown it in pious sentiment.
But to give thanks in the midst of evil or bad things is what is taught and what is wise. I thank God not for my present circumstances but for the fact he is with me in those circumstances. I thank him that he works good out of bad. I thank him for his loving oversight. I thank him not because my life situation is always good but because he is always good.
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