Are you dissatisfied with life – sometimes swamped by feelings of disappointment, jealousy, and self-pity? You’ve got lots of company. Even those who normally just roll with life have, at one time or another, been broadsided by a rogue wave of exasperation with our circumstances. Makes us crabby, too.
Happily, there’s a cure to get our feet underneath us again. Thankfulness.
Thankfulness is sincere appreciation for the good that we have.
It’s the result of recognizing the self-centered messages that hijack our peace, and deliberately rejecting and replacing them with the true and reliable words of God.
Simply put, thankfulness is achieved by changing our focus from what we lack to what we have.
We achieve it by an intentional act over which we have responsible control. That’s why God can command us to be thankful – and He does.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Please read that verse again very carefully. It doesn’t command us to give thanks only for the circumstances that are agreeable to us. It encompasses those that aren’t as well. Why? (Brace yourself for some big-pants theology!) Every one of our circumstances is the intentional will of God for us. Every. Single. One.
Believers usually have one of two objections to that.
First, we want to spare His reputation by asserting good gifts come from God while calamity (tragedy) and disease surely come from Satan. God, Himself, says otherwise. Quite definitely.
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:7It’s no compliment to God to deny His sovereignty in any area. If He is not sovereign over all, by definition, He’s not sovereign at all. Satan is only a delivery boy of what God ordains (not merely allows) to accomplish His purpose in the lives of believers
Our second objection is because we know God has promised to work all things together for good for those who love Him. That should be a bedrock comfort. Problem is, we tend to think “good” equals our happiness; but God tends to think “good” equals our sanctification. Once we understand God is determined to conform us to the image of Christ, we have no cause to gripe when we’re not happy. Happiness is not our goal.
Still, our instinct is to complain. That’s why we need believers beside us – to encourage us and put truth under our feet when we’re knocked off them.
Unbelievers have the same capacity for thankfulness as believers when life’s circumstances are favorable. But they have no category for thankfulness in pain. The best they can do is get through it.
When God’s people demonstrate thankfulness in all circumstances, especially when life is painfully difficult, then God is exalted to His proper standing – valued above life itself. In this Spirit-empowered thankfulness, we fulfill the purpose for which we were created, and are indeed more like our Jesus.
That’s huge. Let motivate you to change your focus the next time you feel dissatisfied with the life God wills for you. Give thanks.