17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 NIV
Give thanks in all circumstances. All? Really? Yep, that's what it says - in all circumstances. It's easy to give thanks when things go well. When we are being treated well, when good things happen, when we receive above and beyond our expectations, when the sun is shining and there are no storm clouds on life's horizon. It's easy to smile, or jump up and down in joy, lift our hands to God and say "Thank you, God. Thank YOU!"
But what about when things aren't so great? What about when life seems to be about tearing you down instead of building you up? What about when those bad things that only happen to other people happen to you? What about when your family members turn their backs on you or your friends suddenly don't want to spend time with you any more? What about when you lose your job all of sudden or your car is gone? What about those times?
How can you say thanks for the times of pain and suffering?
Have you ever looked back on one of those times and realized that in the end, it was a blessing in disguise? That you learned something big that will affect how you live your life in the future? What if, through that difficult experience, you gained knowledge to help someone else who might be going through the very same situation? What if it opened your eyes to see things from someone else's point of view? What if it taught you something about yourself that needed to change?
"In all circumstances" doesn't mean just the good times, but also the not so good, and yes, even the bad times. Give thanks in all circumstances. Hate doing those humdrum chores around the house? At least you have a house....or dishes to wash...or food to eat off those dishes you have to wash. What about when the car breaks down...AGAIN...but you have friends you can call who will give you a ride, or loan you a car, or even just listen to your frustration and empathize. The chronic pain you suffer makes you tired and maybe a little blue...but maybe someday someone will cross your path who you can help through the same kind of pain.
We don't know where all these situations and circumstances will ultimately take us. But we can still give thanks for God's presence, for His undying love, for His foresight and knowledge of how He will use all these things for good in some way. Jesus came to our earth as a human being to share in all these things with us. He's been there. He understands fully what it means to be human, to hurt, to fear, to worry. He understands the emotions we feel. He gets the anger. He knows. And He is there to help us get through all those things.
So give thanks in all circumstances...and trust Him.