- [Eph 5:20] Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
- [1 Th 5:18] In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
- [Col 3:17] And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
- [Heb 13:15] By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
God wants us to be in a continually thankful state of mind. The above verses from the New Testament make that abundantly clear. Why be always thankful? Because God is in control. He is sovereign. The prophet Isaiah wrote, quoting Jehovah, [Isa 45:7] 'I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil [adversity, affliction, calamity, distress]: I the Lord do all these things.' Coupled with God's sovereignty is His incredible love for His children. The dimensions of that love strain our ability to grasp it, but Paul‘s prayer was that we [Eph 3:18,19] ‘May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge...’.
One of my favorite promises in the Bible is [Rom 8:28] '... that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.'
General Stonewall Jackson knew the blessed truth of that verse.
“In 1862, during the midst of the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson wrote to his wife, who was ill: ‘I trust you and all I have in the hands of an ever kind Providence, knowing that all things work together for the good of His people. So live that your sufferings may be sanctified to you; remember that our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’.
“On May 2, 1863, the seemingly invincible Confederate Army won a tremendous victory at Chancellorville. This victory was offset by the setback of General Stonewall losing his left arm. The next day, when visited by Chaplain Lacy, Jackson remarked: You see me severely wounded but not depressed....I am sure that my Heavenly Father designs this affliction for my good. I am perfectly satisfied, that either in this life, or in that which is to come, I shall discover that what is now regarded as a calamity, is a blessing.... If it were in my power to replace my arm, I would not dare to do it, unless I could know it was the will of my Heavenly Father.” [From ‘American Quotations’, collected by William J Federer’]
We have all heard of 'blessings in disguise.' For the child of God, who is walking in the light, all things are blessings, even though they often appear in disguise. The great secret of the Christian life is to learn to see through the disguises. Again Isaiah gives us the word of the Lord: [Isa 55:8,9] 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.' As wonderful as the human mind is, it is woefully inadequate when it comes to understanding spiritual truths and the eternal workings of the Almighty. In retrospect we can often discern God's wisdom in the things He does, but during the trials of our faith, we have to live by faith. And we express that faith by thanking God for all things.
Paul wrote [2 Cor 5:7] 'We walk by faith, not by sight.' Are you a sight-walker or a faith-walker? A faith-walker will see God's hand in all things, and express that faith by continual thankfulness. When we thank God for all things, we acknowledge His sovereignty and love. We acknowledge that we trust Him to be a faithful father -- to work through all things for our good. It pleases the Lord when we do that. Often the Lord is just waiting for us to thank Him for some unpleasant situation or problem, and then He removes it when we do, or shows us how it has worked for good.
Once the heater fan on my car failed. It was a cold, damp spring day, and I was a little chilly, but chose to thank God anyway that it quit working. Immediately it started working once I gave thanks! Recently my electric clothes dryer quit working. After I remembered I had not given thanks about it, and did, the thought came to me that the problem might be with the door switch. I flipped it a few times and the machine was back in service!
Our Lord wants to be at the center of the little things and the big things in our lives. The day I write this, a letter was read on Thru the Bible radio from a mother whose 17 year old son was killed in a car crash caused by a drunken driver. By noon the next day, five different people had brought this verse to the bereaved parents: [Isa 57:1,2] ‘The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace:’. The mother discovered later that Isa 57:1,2 was the text used by Dr J Vernon McGee on his Thru the Bible radio program that day. That scripture was used in the memorial service attended by nearly 1000 people. It gave the mother an assurance that “God knew what was happening and Nate’s death was not an accident in God’s sight.” It provided joy and confidence that her son knew the Lord and was now at peace.
Did you ever read the book ‘The Hiding Place’ by Corrie ten Boom? When they were taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp during WWII, Corrie and her older sister Betsy found that their barracks were infested with lice. Betsy insisted that they thank God for the lice, since we are enjoined to give thanks for all things. Corrie struggled with that, but was obedient. The book goes on to tell how the sisters had an unusual freedom to read the Bible and pray in the barracks at night with the other inmates, in spite of the repressive practices of their Nazi guards. Corrie said, ‘The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.’ Why were they given such freedom? After a while they understood -- the lice! Another blessing in disguise.
God is sovereign, folks. The Lord Jesus said that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. If He notices the fall of each little sparrow, He certainly cares about His children and each little problem they have. He wants to be the absolute center of our life and all our thoughts. Will you let Him be in yours? We need to thank God for all things, but is there anything in particular in your life that is a blessing in disguise, that you have not thanked God for? Do it right now, no matter how unreasonable it may seem to be.
Francis Havergal could see God’s hand in all things when she wrote this wonderful verse:
Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully, all for us to do --
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.
Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest --
Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
But remember, Romans 8:28 says that the promise is only for those who love God; to them only will all things work out for good. Are you sure that you are a child of God? Have you ever come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins? It is the cross that turns curses into blessings. If you have not come to Him, He is waiting for you to trust Him now to be your savior. He is not willing that any should perish. He will make you a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). He said [John 6:37] '...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.' Put your trust in Him alone, this day, and begin to experience the awesome privilege it is to be a child of God.