One of the most difficult truths in God's Word to understand and to embrace is to be thankful in ALL circumstances. We don't have a problem with being thankful in times of plenty, in times of success, and/or in times of peace. However, we sometimes (truthfully, most of the time) have a problem with being thankful in times of need, in times of failure, and/or in times of turmoil. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul says, "Rejoice ALWAYS, pray CONTINUALLY, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Similarly, in Philippians 4:4-7, Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The words we read from Paul in his letters to the churches and the Christ followers is very clear. This is not a confusing concept to understand, but it is a difficult one to embrace. How can we be thankful in ALL circumstances? How can we rejoice ALWAYS? It takes faith. I know that is not the answer many people like to hear or want to hear. However, faith is the key to being thankful in ALL circumstances. Faith is the key to rejoicing ALWAYS. Let me explain, my answer deeper. I believe that God loves me. I believe that God gave His one and only Son, Jesus, to live and die for me. I believe that Jesus rose from the grave to defeat sin and death for me. I put my faith in God that He would look upon me, a wretched and vile sinner, and love me while I am a sinner. I put my faith in Jesus Christ that His finished work on the cross is the only way for my forgiveness, my redemption, and my restoration. My faith in the Lord for my salvation is solid. And if my faith in the Lord for my salvation (which I don't deserve and can never earn) is solid, then my faith in the Lord from salvation on can be solid. In other words, I can exercise my faith in every other area of my life with solid belief in the Lord. Paul says in Romans 8:28, "And we KNOW that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." My faith in the Lord for salvation is what drives my faith in the Lord to be thankful in ALL circumstances. If I can believe in Him to save me from my sins and give me redemption and restoration, then I can believe in Him to work for the good for me...in the good times and even in the bad times. I KNOW God personally and intimately through Jesus. I KNOW that He is in control. My attitude of prayer, of thanksgiving, and of rejoicing in ALL circumstances (good, bad, and in between) is the opportunity to give the Lord glory and honor, which He truly deserves! Psalm 100:1-5 says, "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. KNOW that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures FOREVER; his faithfulness continues through ALL generations."
I'm not saying this will be easy for you or easy for me, but I KNOW what is right and what is good. We need to exercise our faith in the Lord by being thankful in ALL circumstances. We need to exercise our faith in the Lord by praying CONTINUALLY. We need to exercise our faith in the Lord by rejoicing ALWAYS. We need to respond to the circumstances of life by what we KNOW, not by what we FEEL. The Lord is good! His love endures forever! Believe it! Claim it! Live it!