Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Really? I can think of a million situations where giving thanks is the last thing I want to do. Pandemics. Invasions. Accidents. Death. Prejudice. Discrimination…And we’re just getting warmed up.
Yet, Paul is speaking from his own experience. His discipleship was marked by beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, insults, imprisonments, robberies (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-26). And he said “give thanks”???
I’ve lived a very mild and fortunate life compared to Paul’s. Perhaps looking at him from the outside, fearing such bad things, makes me wonder how he could write this silliness.
But then I think of some of the people to whom I’ve ministered. They went through horrendous things. There were no easy fixes for them. Yet I saw them eventually emerge on the other side of their hurt as people with deeper character, faith, empathy, and compassion. They bore the scars of their ordeal, certainly. But something happened to their spirits as they were going through their crucible that would not have happened if they’d lived in a bubble.
They testify to the truth of what Paul said elsewhere: “We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
The situations that knock us down turn into situations where we discover we’re not alone. When we suffer, we connect with the sufferings of the Christ of the cross. He comes to us in ways only he can, in only those times.
If this is the truth in every situation, then maybe we can find reason to give thanks.
What is there, ultimately, to fear?