I read and pondered deeply this morning 1 Thessalonians 5:18, a verse in the Bible that says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is GOD’S WILL for you who belong to Christ Jesus." I’ve read this verse a hundred times but usually have glossed over it. Today, sitting by the pool, cool breeze from the ceiling fan keeping me comfortable I’m thinking, how can you tell me to be thankful in every circumstance and not only that but making the assertion stronger by saying it is God’s Will! I’m doing some major, "Yeah buts," in my head. Yeah but, what about really, really hurtful stuff like death, marriage failures, job loss, and car wrecks? Am I supposed to be thankful in those things? You’ve got to be kidding. Knowing he wasn’t kidding though I had to think deeper, how could this be true and how could anyone really practice this?
I started probing more deeply, okay, I know God’s goal for all Christians is to take us from the place He found us to become like Jesus. I also know that process will take our entire lives and then finally when we see Him we will be like Him. Between now and then God is always the sculptor with the chisel ready to chip away more Scott and reveal more Jesus. So, hard headed as I am, how does that happen? Often in softer and more open moments the change can happen just from reading His word or hearing it taught, lights go on, stuff changes. But for me, some of the more deeply ingrained attitudes and behaviors are chisled away when the crap hits the fan in my world. I don’t believe God causes bad things to happen, but I believe He is eager to redeem the bad things to accomplish something worthwhile out of them.
Okay then, because I know God is shaping me to be like Jesus and He promises He is at work in everything and will bring some good out of every circumstance, then it is up to me to realize when things go south in my world, I can have great confidence that one day looking back I will see God used that hurthful time to develop me to be more like Him. Sounds good but how do I know that can really happen?
The cross! Going through all the brutality of the event, all the evil of men, a terrible train wreck of circumstances, betrayal, evil and hurt, God worked in the circumstances and brought about redemption for all who would believe. The very worst event in human history brought about the most positive results.
I look back over my life at difficult people, terrible mistakes on my own part, bad circumstances and see through those things I learned some of the greatest life lessons and my character has been developed the most in the deepest valleys. Again, evidence that God was at work in me through circumstances.
God is always at work in life’s circumstances for our good. He is always trying to shape me, teach me, remake me in His image. So, when life brings me some really tough circumstances It is God’s desire for me to say, time for school! I don’t know what is going on in my world, but I know my Heavenly Father is at work in me through the circumstances and for that I am and will be thankful.
It is God’s will for me to be thankful in all circumstances. When I can view life that way, I can be like the eye of the hurricane, calm in the middle of storms and that is emotional health. Lord help me remember this!