In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thanksgiving, the U.S. national holiday, is coming next week. In the Christian life, every day should be a day of thanksgiving.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This verse drives the grammar checker to distraction. It wants to make “every thing” into a single word. The thing about making that change: the emphasis is not the same.

“Everything in the store is on sale.”

“I can’t be your everything.”

“Every thing I think about turns up missing.”

Car keys? Gone. Grocery list? Missing. Piano music? Can’t locate it. See how the emphasis is on the “thing” when the two words are separate?

God’s Word is inspired, so grammar check gets to be wrong today.

In this verse, God wants us to think about every little thing He has done for us. Then give thanks. I don’t mean just the good things, either. God’s will is for us to be thankful for every single thing that comes our way.

This verse took on new meaning for me after I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. If you haven’t read it, please do. It isn’t that long, and she does her best to minimize the horror of the camps. The story is about her faith, not the inhumanity of Hitler and his drones.

Corrie and her sister were shipped off to a concentration camp after the Gestapo raided their home (although they didn’t actually find the people hiding in the tiny room). In the camp, the sisters weren’t allowed to do anything that would extend their hope.

It didn’t matter. Corrie and her sister began to pray and share scripture with the other women in their dormitory (if you could call it that). One day, Corrie was feeling especially peeved about their horrible condition and wondered why her sister kept such a positive attitude.

“I give thanks in every thing,” she said.

Corrie found this hard to believe. “You mean, you give thanks for the fleas in our bedding.” I picture her scratching her head while asking the question.

Her sister said she did give thanks for the fleas. Corrie couldn’t imagine a thing about fleas to be thankful for (and neither could I).

But her sister could. “The guards won’t come in here because they don’t want to get infested with fleas,” her sister said. “So we can pray and sing and talk about scripture all we want and they will never bother us. All because of the fleas. That’s why I thank God for the fleas.”

Perspective people. That’s what you’ll find when reading Ten Boom’s autobiography.

Even in the bad things, God says it is His will that we give thanks.

Burnt myself on my oven door. I’m thankful my oven works so I can cook my family’s dinner. Am I thankful for the pain? Sure. It told me to get away from that hot door before I did even more damage to my hand.

A car accident. The car is totaled, and my insurance coverage isn’t going to give me enough to replace it. But I can be thankful because I walked away without any injuries.

A diagnosis of stage four cancer. Less than a month to live. Give thanks that your family will not have to watch you suffer for months and years while you fight the disease and die anyway. We all die eventually.

Call me a Pollyanna if you want. I’m taking the Lord’s directive seriously. He says it is His will that I give thanks in every single thing.

After all the times I thought, “I wonder what God’s will is” this epiphany is refreshing.

If you’re not feeling especially thankful for something in your life today, time to change your perspective. God is working in the situation. You might not see it now, but you can be certain it’s true. Look deeper for an angle to give thanks.

And if you can’t find a way to be thankful for your circumstances or situation, here’s something to consider. Can you ever thank Jesus enough for dying to save you?

**This article was first published elsewhere on December 2, 2014.

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