“ Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably discovered that some commandments in the Bible are easier for you to obey than others. When reading 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the difficult part of the verse is the three words, “in all circumstances.” We know what Paul is saying, but we may not be sure how we can possibly do this. Maybe if it said, “In good things give thanks,” we’d know exactly why we should obey this command because it makes perfect sense. But when we consider the phrase “in everything,” we begin to question whether all-inclusive gratitude is even possible.

What about those times when you’re discouraged, disillusioned, overwhelmed, overextended, and just fighting to not be over stressed? And what about when the storms come, and your relationships and the car breaks down at the same time?   

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians celebrates a flourishing church. God was blessing Paul’s preaching and witnessing of Paul and his companions. But amidst this, riots started against Paul and Silas  A mob formed, looking for these two. Paul and Silas were spirited out of the city barely escaping. The Thessalonian believers stayed behind, and they had to deal with the persecution and anger that remained. 

It was to these people that Paul wrote the words, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Would you feel like giving thanks if you were experiencing such persecution?  If your leaders had to flee, how thankful would you be?

How can we be thankful “in all circumstances?” First, let’s remember that this text doesn’t say that we should be thankful for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. For example, we are not thankful for death, but when death does touch a loved one, we can still be thankful in the midst of death, because Jesus has risen from the dead and has conquered death.

Jesus really is the key to giving thanks in all circumstances.  Notice how the text says, “for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  “In Christ Jesus,” we can be thankful even in the worst of times, because in Christ Jesus, we have God’s mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life.  In Christ Jesus, we can be thankful even when the news from the doctor is bad. In Christ Jesus, we can give thanks for His care during difficult financial times. In Christ Jesus, we can rejoice in the resurrection, even as death brings us pain in this life.

Gratitude is not dependent upon good circumstances but is based on our confidence and trust in the Lord and His promises. He is with you in whatever situation you are facing today. Although you may not be able to see the good He’s working at the moment, we can be thankful that He is. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is being thankful really our choice? Can we actually decide that we will be thankful people?
  2. Where has being thankful ranked on your list of required Christian qualities up until now? Has this devotional changed your mind at all? If so, how?