The Impossible Imperative of Thanksgiving

God’s word is full of commands and imperatives that seem impossible and there is one that involves thanksgiving.  Paul wrote these words in I Thessalonians 5:18:

”In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  

This is Biblical Thanksgiving and God’s will for you and me.  I think we could have handled this imperative had Paul said, “I give thanks in some things,” or “in a few things, I give thanks,” or “in certain things or in important things I give thanks.”  But Paul goes all the way with this impossible imperative so that we don’t get to pick and choose what we are thankful for.  Actually the command goes further than that, and what I mean is that this command is for all Christians no matter what circumstances we go through.

I know you may be asking, how can I be thankful when things hurt me or there is extreme trials God allows to take place in my life?  How can I be thankful when the doctor tells me I have cancer?  How can I be thankful when my house burns down or my child is born with a disability?  How can I be thankful when my spouse wants a divorce?  How is it possible to be thankful when you lose a loved one?  Those are real life circumstances that people go through every day, and to hear someone say, “Be thankful” is almost offensive.  Please hear this, Paul was not telling us to give thanks for the specific trial.  Paul was not saying give thanks because you were injured and can never work again, or give thanks because your friend’s life was cut short by a careless driver.

So what was Paul saying, and how is this even possible to give thanks in everything?  First, right before Paul said, “In everything give thanks,” Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.”  You have to know that praying without ceasing makes the impossible imperative of thanksgiving possible.  That’s where the power to give thanks comes from—prayer.  But there’s two phrases that you need to put together to know how to give thanks in everything, or why, rather.  “In everything give thanks,” and “in Christ Jesus” are the key phrases that go together.

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

The “how” to give thanks in everything comes from the power of unceasing prayer and the “why” comes from more than Paul’s command.  Paul was not saying, “Do this because I said so!”  Paul gave this command because of an unwavering truth present in your life this moment.  We should give thanks in everything because God is with us in everything.  In every circumstance of your life, God is right there with you.  You are not saying, “God, thank you that this happened to me and my family,” but you are saying, “God, thank you for being with me in this trial.”  “God, thank for for not abandoning me when life gets hard.”  “God, thank you that there’s never a moment in my life that you are not with me.”

This the true reason to gives thanks in everything.  This Thanksgiving, give thanks to God that He is with you in everything that you go through in life.