“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
We have heard many times in the past how we ought to be thankful in every situation of our lives. Job is put forward as a good example of someone who worshipped God even in extreme trials, tribulations and temptations. Regardless of his affliction, he honoured the Lord. In a single day he had everything taken away and his life was devastated by severe pain. Yet he worshipped God. He knew that God has abundantly blessed him.
What God has given us
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:20-22).
In some respect in was quite natural for Job to say, “The LORD hath taken away” as he watched his life being destroyed by circumstances beyond his control. We would do exactly the same, but in doing so we, like him, would find ourselves having a negative worldview. We all lose people, health and things throughout life, but instead of focussing on the loss, we ought to thank God for the blessing they were to us. This change of focus gives us an altogether different outlook on both the present and the future. Indeed, we should thank Him and acknowledge that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
The darkness of life will roll in upon us numerous times during our lives, but even there we can find something to rejoice in. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19). Basically, we should be grateful for the blessings we receive each day rather than becoming downcast at what we have lost. Praise God for breath, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD” (Psalm 150:6), peace, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165), and the assurance of all His promises, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). There is so much more beside, but whatever fills our day, through it all we can glorify the Lord, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Who God has given us
Placing this point second does not infer that we mean that it is secondary on our daily list of reasons to thank God. Sadly though, we do allow the things of life to cast a shadow over the most important truth in Scripture, and for which we ought always to rejoice. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The Lord Hiself came to earth wrapped in flesh and lived among us. “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He, because of this, is able to help us through every trial and test we face. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
What did the Saviour accomplish on earth? “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). When Jesus proclaimed on Calvary’s cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), this sealed His sacrifice as the only possible means of salvation for sinners. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Here is the most precious of reasons why we can rejoice each day, for regardless of what happens to us in life, this wonderful salvation cannot be taken away from us by man. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). Yes, life might deal us a terrible hand, and indeed the devil will make sure the cards are stacked against us, but despite his underhand tactics, we will win because of Christ. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39).
Job may not have fully understood why he was forced to endure the severe trial of his faith, but he did hold to his trust in God. Right in the midst of his affliction he could set his heart upon a truth that set his heart free from the chains of suffering. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27). We will never have to face such intense tribulation as Job, but we can put our hand into the same hand that delivered him from his distress. Let us not count our few losses, but instead count our many blessings. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).