In Everything Give Thanks

by Naomi Fisher on November 21, 2014

Pain. Anger. Frustration. Grief. Joy. Wealth. Peace. Happiness. Contentment. Death. Violence. Affliction. Love. Worry. Honor. Humiliation. Care. Victory. Triumph. Defeat. Blessed. These are only a few of the strong emotions that we may come to encounter throughout the course of our lives.

Five-year-old Jane Worthington was dropped off at the orphanage in San Moreno California by her drunken father who had just witnessed his wife of 7 years, stricken with severe depression, take her own life the week before. Feeling confused and helpless, Jane, though only five years old, felt a wave of darkness sweep over her. Through the years of struggle that followed, she learned that life is full of trouble and pain.

Sixteen-year-old Lewis Johnson, born and raised in an Apostolic home, could not see himself completely giving everything to God because of his infirmity. Lewis was born with multiple sclerosis, which resulted in a misalignment of his spine to where he always walked in an abnormal way. Multiple doctor’s appointments and treatments could never cure his aching heart for the rejection that he felt every time he walked into his school building. No matter how many times he raised his hands at the altar in church, something always made him ask the question, “why me?”

Janine Benton, 18 years old from Dubois, Indiana, felt very content at the university she chose to attend. As her family celebrated her completion of high school with a graduation party at the most desired country club in town, Janine couldn’t help but reflect on how her life has been full of peace and happiness. Not only was she well liked by the community, but she also managed to land a full ride academic scholarship to Brown University, where her best friend was also going to attend. To top it all off, her parents awarded accomplishment with a brand new car. How could she not be excited to start such a new and promising chapter of her life?

On the one hand, a family can be celebrating the birth of a new child. On the other hand, a family can be mourning their loss, as they lay their child to rest. On the one hand, families can come together for a joyous holiday season of Thanksgiving, with floods of good memories that they have shared. On the other hand, families across the way could be dreading the holiday season, for fear of rehashing broken memories of their unloving families. Although each person has a completely different story, there is one common denominator that is required of the happy, the sad, the rich and the poor:

“In Everything give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Thankful in the Midst of Chaos

Sometimes we ask ourselves, “How can I give thanks, when nothing seems to be going right?” How can a mother who has just experienced a miscarriage for the third time, find it within herself to give thanks? How can a father, who has just found out that his 17-year-old son is diagnosed with an unidentifiable and incurable cancer, find it within his heart to give thanks? How can the families, who have suffered the abduction of their children, find it in their souls to say, “Lord I give you thanks today”? In this world full of evil and heartache, it is hard to find the courage to be thankful when you have only been exposed to pain. And then, when you look at someone who may not have gone through much trial or pain in their life, you begin to envy their happiness. You wonder why you were stuck with so much suffering and heartache. But God doesn’t specify in His word who should give thanks or when it is appropriate to give thanks, based on your life’s circumstances. He simply commands us to give thanks in everything—even in the bad things. It’s pretty hard to comprehend how a God, who is in control of the cosmos and the very breath that we breathe, could allow humanity to endure such turmoil of the soul and still command us to be thankful unto him. But in looking closer, we see that God will never give us more than we are able to bear (I Corinthians 10:13).

We look at the story of Job and how his suffering endured, without reprieve and without warning or understanding. Yet he could utter the words:

naked came I into out of my mothers womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).

We find, at this point in his suffering, Job realized that he must be thankful because his only alternative was to curse God and die. God, who created and handcrafted you, who made you after the likeness of his image, and from the beginning of time looked upon you and said “you are good,” knows every single thing you encounter in your life. Whether it be joy or sadness, his plan and purpose for your life’s journeys are forever established in heaven. They are designed with the intent to draw you closer to a love relationship with him, that you may be a witness to the awesome power of God for someone else. Knowing that the Holy One regards me and desires to make me an ambassador of his glory gives me the courage that, no matter what life may bring, I can lift up my head and hands to say “Thank you Jesus.”

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-6).

Jesus, our Jehovah Jirah. Jesus, our Kinsmen Redeemer, knows how it feels to be in pain, to be wounded, to be hurt, and to feel emotional and physical abandonment. Jesus knows how it feels to be rejected by those who are supposed to love you the most. Yet, he knows that his affliction served a greater purpose. That purpose is to bring redemption for you and me. Whatever you are going through in life will serve a greater purpose if, in your heart, you can continue to say “Thank you Jesus.”

I will end with the wonderfully inspirational story of a true hero in history, named Cory Ten Boom. Cory Ten Boom and her family lived in Holland during the time of the Holocaust. Because of a deep burden that God placed in their hearts, they created a secret room in their house to hide Jews from the Nazi’s. Even though their hideout saved a numerous amount of Jews, they were eventually discovered and Cory and her entire family were sent to the concentration camps. Cory Ten Boom’s family did not survive. In Cory’s book “The Hiding Place”, she recalls being marched into her cell and looking upon the pile of bodies on the floor stacked on top of each other. Upon closer look, she could see her sister amongst the bodies that were so carelessly thrown away. As she was marched to her cell, I am sure numerous emotions were filling her heart and mind. I’m sure the enemy tried severely to torment her mind with thoughts of cursing God. But Cory knew that “In every thing give thanks.” She spoke of her cell and how there was an infestation of fleas there. I’m sure the fleas feasted upon her and everyone else in those cells. But instead of Cory Ten Boom finding, yet another thing to potentially complain about, she began to thank God for the fleas in her cell. She later found out the only reason she survived the concentration camp, and the reason she was never sent to the gas chambers, was because the Nazi soldiers did not want to come near her cell and its infestation of fleas. Glory be to God! God used fleas to save His humble servant and Cory Ten Boom lived to recall the stories that occurred during that time in history. Looking at her story, one could easily see why she would have cause to shrink into a hole of depression. Cory Ten Boom and her family did not have to hide away the Jews. If they had kept to themselves, they would have survived. And why did God have to use fleas to help her in her dark situation? So many questions could make one easily doubt the sovereignty of the Almighty! But instead of cursing God, Cory Ten Boom insisted on thanking God. Could it be that she understood life isn’t about having everything come easy, with little to no pain and suffering? Could it be that she understood life was about standing fast in thanksgiving to the Creator, no matter what happens? I think this is the lesson to be learned: that in everything we are to give thanks!

This holiday season, whether you are enjoying it with family and friends, or perhaps may be enjoying the season alone, lift up your head and thank God for his many blessings. Rest in hope that, even if you don’t understand the trials and troubles that may come into your life, the One who Created life knows exactly why you are in your season of life and He has it all in control. Let your life be a continual season of thanksgiving and there will always be that beacon of light and peace, that will undeniably be linked to the love that Jesus has for you.