Theme of the Week: Attitude of Gratitude
Bible Verse: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Let’s not pretend that understanding the difference between giving thanks in (during) a circumstance and giving thanks for a situation is a new thing. We have been getting this idea since someone (finally) realized the idea of being thankful for some of the horrific things that happen in life isn’t what the Bible talks about at all, so it can’t be what Paul means.
And then many of us jump on board to help others realize the difference between in and for, hoping to help people escape the guilt, frustration, and confusion that can come from trying to find a way to be thankful for difficult, even bad, things.
The particular situation that we may be facing doesn’t have to be part of our gratitude at all; it just happens to be the situation we are in when we are expressing our thankfulness to God. Even in the worst of circumstances, those of us who have received the grace of God in Jesus have something real and true and significant to be thankful for.
Instead, what most of us need (okay, what I need) is the encouragement to give thanks. It feels good to embrace the difference between in and for, but once we understand that difference, are we actually doing it? Paul is essentially telling us that we always have something to be thankful for so we should always be giving thanks.
Maybe part of the reason this is difficult is because of how easy it is to get lost in our circumstances. When we cannot see beyond our belly button, we may not be able to see anything to give thanks for. Paul’s encouragement then, entails trying to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances to see and remember God and what he has done for us.
Jesus set this example for us. He endured the cross for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus was able to look beyond the pain and horror of the cross to the joy of God’s plan. It may not be easy; it can’t be easy, but it is possible.
Prayer: God I confess that sometimes it is easy to be consumed by my circumstances. I know you care about the things that happen to me. Please help me to feel your presence and your concern even when life is difficult. Help me to see you and be thankful for the salvation you have provided.
Reflection: What circumstance is consuming you? What do you need to be able to see beyond? Ask God for the perspective only he can give.
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