Give Thanks in All Circumstances
by Cindy McGill
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches we are reminded that we should be thankful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. How often though does our thankfulness extend to those blessings that at first glance appear to be hardships, one more thing to deal with, the last straw? If you are like me then probably not very often!
Recently, while reading the beautiful book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, God gently showed me just how far off my idea of thankfulness was from what he commands of me. Corrie and her family lived in Nazi occupied Holland during World War II. They risked everything to serve the persecuted Jews. This service eventually led to their arrest and imprisonment. For several family members it led to death.
Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually interned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Upon arrival they discovered their barrack was crawling with fleas! Corrie wondered how they could live in such a place! Betsie however was reminded that God had commanded them to “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Betsie began thanking God for keeping her and Corrie together, for the Bible He had provided them and kept safe, for the overcrowding that allowed them to share the good news of Jesus Christ with more women… and for placing them there in Ravensbruck with the fleas. Corrie, however felt even God could not make her grateful for living with fleas. Over the months ahead Corrie and Betsie led huge groups of women in Bible study, in worship, in prayer, all without a single interruption from Nazi guards. Guards swarmed like bees everywhere else, but never entered the barrack of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom. Eventually the sisters learned the guards would not enter that barrack because of the fleas. Yes, the fleas were part of God’s greater plan. They were intentional. They had a purpose. God used them to further His kingdom, to allow many souls to be gathered to Him that might otherwise have been lost. They were a blessing, something to be thankful for.
What fleas are you currently struggling with? What circumstances are you living through that you feel even God cannot make you grateful for? I pray God will help you become like Betsie ten Boom who through her great suffering had learned the meaning of giving thanks in all circumstances. By no means was Betsie able to be thankful in this way on her own! In our flesh we are very, very weak, completely unable to look beyond our present condition to a greater purpose. But when we recognize the sovereignty of God, when we place our trust fully in Him, when we choose to obey His commands even when they don’t make sense, when we ask Him to replace our own human attitude with His will, there is power. Power from God to do those things that are impossible for us to do alone. Yes, power even to be thankful in the often extremely painful circumstances of our lives. Power to bring good out of every situation, in His time.