What are we grateful for?

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What are we grateful for?

Give thanks in all circumstances!

“Yeah right! As if…” might be your first reaction or if we do not read the phrase carefully, perhaps we will question it  – “why should I be grateful for all circumstances? That’s crazy!” 

Or we can see the news and wonder what there is to be thankful for. The tragic crash of the Malaysian Jet over eastern Ukraine for instance has impacted so many families and friends and caused shock amongst multitudes of others. (For anyone reading this who believes in praying, let’s continue to pray for all those grieving)

Look again at the words, in fact I will add on some more words…

Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

The words are taken from a letter in the New Testament (the phrase can be found at 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Note it say ‘in’ not ‘for’…  Two small words but the use of one rather than the other makes a huge difference.

This is not about anyone denying there are tough circumstances at times in life. Nor is it saying that grieving for instance is wrong. In fact the opposite is very often true – grieving is a vital, normal part of being human to help us heal up and respond to loss (it can also be incredibly painful too!)

Giving thanks in all circumstances rather than for all circumstances, challenges us all to be people who express gratitude not just when life is easier.

“But it seems so unreasonable!” some could say….

Well think for a moment about the person inspired to write the words… Paul. Amongst other things he was beaten up, flogged, imprisoned, stoned and left for dead and shipwrecked to name but some things. Yet he wrote those words about gratitude.

Also the phrase says,“this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. I think we can take encouragement from this. If this is something that is in the will of God, then He does not call us to do this on our own. We can pray and ask Him to help us to be grateful people and to  express it to others.

That it is God’s will gives me hope. For I will readily admit I often do not find it easy to give thanks in all circumstances. But I want to be someone who is more thankful within all of life and I can ask for His grace and help.

A question to think about – what do you think it actually means to ‘give thanks in all circumstances?’ I’d like to suggest that is something good to reflect on in each of our lives, rather than my writing on and on.

What are we grateful for?

Brennan Manning in his book ‘Ruthless Trust’ gives a chapter to focussing on gratitude. Some of this is referred to in an ICL talk that you can listen to on the Media page (July 20th talk). May be there will be something in the talk to help you embrace gratitude more.

A story from the Gospels to reflect on when considering gratitude is Luke 17:11-19 (again looked at in the talk). Ten healed, only one expresses thanks.

Who could you express gratitude to in the coming days? What are we grateful to God for?

Give thanks in all circumstances!