Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)
There are some pretty grumpy people in the world. If 99 out of 100 things are going right, you can bet that they will remind you of the one thing that is going wrong. For such people, every silver lining has a cloud.
Of course there are others who have such sunny dispositions that nothing seems to bother them. Problems are ignored or dismissed, or at least minimised. That can in itself be a problem. Pretending all is well when it is not is not faith but mere pretense.
So when we are urged to be thankful, we have to be careful to get it right. Paul is not telling us to be thankful “for” all that happens. Who could be thankful for a child dying of starvation or a family wiped out in a car accident? Not all that happens to us or around us is good.
The command to be thankful is based not on our external circumstances but on the goodness of God. Life may be bad for us but God is good, and for that reason we can be thankful. Let’s not play silly games by imagining that what is happening to us is always good. Rather, let’s recognise that God is good no matter what is happening.
That helps us avoid being grumpy cynics or unreal optimists. It helps us have an attitude of gratitude.