The Will of God – Part 3

give-thanks“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

In the first two parts of this series we discussed rejoicing always and found that it is possible to do so if we truly live in the reality of God’s BIG picture: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) Then we hit upon praying always, and again, if we are wrapped up in a relationship with God we will be conversing and communing with Him all the time. The third part of our verse above is now on the plate. We are always to give thanks, and once more the challenges do seem to loom large.

Good health – Thank You. Sunny day – Thank You. A bull market – Thank You. Got that promotion – Thank You. Passed the exam – Thank You. Cancer, rain, bear market, fired, failed – No Thank You. Circumstances change seemingly by the minute. Can you say, “roller-coaster ride”?

How are we to maintain an attitude of gratitude? Well, a great place to start is knowing that even life’s roller-coasters sit on terra-firma. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8) God is a rock. God is an excellent provider and protector. Before we ever needed air to breathe it was here. Before we ever needed food to eat, water to drink, shelter to rest under, it was already here. We have so much for which to be thankful. God is ever faithful.

We should have no problem, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph 5:20) We can be thankful for our faith, family, friends, fellowship, ministries and the many wonders of nature and life itself. But…yes there is a but…Life is, in fact, a tireless purveyor of loss. When we are born our physical life starts its journey to death. And along the way we lose our childhood and innocence. Many of our hopes and dreams turn to dust. Our stuff comes and then goes. Our bodies decay. We lose loved ones. Where is the thanksgiving in all that?

There was a man by the name of Job, and his life was good and bad and happy and sad and he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21) From the ashes he asked, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (2:10) In the midst of the tempest he declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (13:15) In all things, we can give thanks because God is in all things “and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

One example for me was the passing of my dad a few years back. I still miss him terribly, yet though I mourn, I have such great memories and thoughts of him that I cannot help but profusely thank my Heavenly Father for giving me such a wonderful earthly father. We thank God for what He has so richly given, and peacefully trust Him in what He has taken away.

The will of God in Christ Jesus for you and me is to rejoice always, pray always, and thank always. And in Christ Jesus we can do just that.

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