November 28, 2019
365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 363: Giver of Every Good Gift
Giver of Every Good Gift
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
Early in our marriage, my wonderful, patient, loving husband sometimes suggested that I should "just chill out." For the record, he is the chillest human being I've ever met, and he only ever told me this when I was freaking out about something utterly insignificant in the big scheme of things.
His telling me to "just chill out" sounded to my ears like he was telling me to "just" feel differently about a situation. As if I could "just" flip some emotional switch, and whatever circumstances were upsetting me would suddenly no longer have a negative effect on my thoughts and feelings.
My husband is a smart and caring man, however, and he has since stricken "just chill out" from his marital vocabulary.
"Just" feeling a certain way about a certain set of circumstances is not a simple matter, which is why I love that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 does not tell us to "be thankful about all circumstances" but rather to "give thanks in all circumstances."
"Thankful" is an adjective. To "be thankful," to me, requires a certain manipulation of my feelings about circumstances so that "thankful' is how I would describe myself in relation to them. Sometimes, this is no trick at all. Other times, though, it feels fake at best.
But "give thanks" is another matter entirely. To "give" is action, decision, will. To give is to offer, release, or put forth. "Thanks" conveys expressions of gratitude, appreciation, and awareness of blessings which may or may not be obvious. And "in"—as in, "in all circumstances"—is a little word with big implications. For one thing, it tells us where we are supposed to do our thanking: IN all circumstances. Right "in" the thick of them. IN the joy. IN the sorrow. IN the wanting. IN the having. IN the grieving. IN the dancing. IN the famine. IN the feast. And "in" all circumstances gives us an out from having to give thanks FOR all circumstances.
When we put all this together, we see the freedom and power of God's directive to "give thanks in all circumstances." In joy, sorrow, wanting, grieving, mourning, dancing, famine, feast, and "all" the other circumstances of life on this earth, we do not have to figure out how to make "thankful" our state of being in regard to them. We do not have to try to summon up some emotion we'd describe as "thankful" about them. But we are charged with the task of choosing to give thanks—to offer up expressions of gratitude and recognition that God is still and always the giver of good gifts—not necessarily *for* but *in* all circumstances.
Why make this choice, especially when it's hard? "This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
Our thanks is what God wants. Giving it to Him is His good, pleasing, and perfect will for us. And there is no better "circumstance" to be fully, totally, top-of-our-heads deep IN than that.
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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!