Have you ever been told you should thank God for everything that comes into your life, no matter what? Have you ever found it almost impossible to do so? With conviction, at any rate? Was it almost as if you were lying to God?
There’s a good reason for that: God never said we should thank him for everything. Just as he is not the giver of all things that happen. Some of what happens is in our hands or the hands of others. He said we should thank him in all things. The word can be translated as among all things and through all things. It does not translate as “for” all things.
God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift.”
Perhaps Jesus can be our example. What did he give thanks for?
On the mountainside he lifted bread and gave thanks — for the provision, maybe? For the miracle of multiplication that he knew would come? For the men whose hands would offer the sustenance and who had left all to follow? For the people who followed, who now needed the bread?
At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus lifted up his eyes and gave thanks, “that you have heard me, Father.” It was for the people’s ears that he gave thanks at that moment, because, as he said, “…you always hear me.” And he’s always thankful — maybe at this moment for the miracle, for the joy of returning a man to his family. For giving temporal life as well as eternal.
Outside Chorazin and Bethsaida, the cities of his greatest miracles and his greatest rejection to date, he “answered” the coldness by saying, “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have revealed the truth to the babes, the open hearted and honest ones.” Was this thanksgiving to help him focus on the good, perhaps? To still the voice of the accuser?
At that special last supper with his friends, knowing the betrayal, the pain, and the separation he would suffer alone, even without his father’s comfort, he lifts bread once more. One text says he blessed and broke it. Another says he gave thanks.
And then he took up the cup. He gave thanks for the cup of his new covenant. Perhaps also for the brothers-to-be around him who would be the first to break the bread of life to the world that waited unaware. And thanks for us?
Not thanks for the betrayal, not thanks for the unbelief and rejection, not thanks for the pain and separation. Thanks for the loving kindness that sent him here. Thanks for the faithfulness that would bring him through to victory.
When you are in the midst of pain, betrayal, separation, give thanks to God. Not for the situation you are in, but for His faithfulness that will lead you to victory.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord… to declare your lovingkindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night” (Psalm 92:1-4).