Posted by: pmarkrobb | November 26, 2015

in, not for

Let me be among the first today to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  It is a unique holiday; one which traditionally prompts us to take inventory of the things and people we are most thankful for.  It inspires an attitude of gratitude, and seems the proper primer for the celebration which will follow in just a few short weeks.  As with many other times and things in our daily lives, there is stiff competition from the ill’s of noise and stress, but I pray the day (and extended weekend) create a space for quiet, rest and thankful reflection.

This week our daily readings have intentionally focused on stories of gratitude.  We began with a mother whose cup of joy and gratitude was full and spilling over, because God heard her heart cry and gifted her a son.  We saw a man return to Jesus, after having demons cast out of him, grateful and desiring to follow Him.  We heard a prophet speak a vow “with a voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:9 ESV) and be miraculously spit out of the stomach of a great fish.  We read of ten lepers, who were healed and the solitary one who shouted out praises to God, returned and “fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” (Luke 17:16 ESV)

Scripture is full of stories of gratitude but not always of healing or victory.  Sometimes (maybe you feel, many times) that is true of circumstances or people in our own lives.  Healing doesn’t come.  Suffering persists.  Prayers give every appearance of not being answered.

Maybe today’s reading was the encouragement and reminder you needed on this day of thanksgiving.  Maybe you felt it was “a little too perfect.”  It sounds good.  It sounds “spiritual.”  But maybe your joy has been beaten down.  Maybe your prayers are on life support or have been absent for some time now.  Maybe your “thanks” is more like, “thanks for nothing!”  Be thankful in all circumstances, God says.  That doesn’t sound conditional.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus, God says.  A perpetual spirit of gratitude no matter the circumstance, this is God’s will for you.  That is not conditional, and it is highly personal.

But here’s the thing … there is a critical word in the first half of the verse above.  It is a word that is often missed or misheard as people read or apply the truth of that verse to their life or the lives of others.  That word is “in.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 does not say, Be Thankful for all circumstances (although that is so often how it is read or heard).  It says, Be thankful in all circumstances.  No matter what your life looks like as you read these words or navigate this day, God desires for you to be grateful in it.  If you cultivate gratitude in your life, you will find yourself increasingly able to find things and people to be grateful for, even in the midst of grave suffering or loss.

God does not expect you to be grateful for the suffering or loss, but He does supply the power to be grateful even in suffering and loss.  Cultivate gratitude in your life.  Consume God’s Word daily and let it do its work within your heart.  Be thankful in, not for, every circumstance in your life.

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Responses

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to the entire Journeyonword team !!
    I am Thankful for all of you and your continuous dedication to sharing the Word through this wonderful blog May our Lord shower you all with great blessings
    Sincerely
    Brad Wise

  2. Thanks for this word. I liked it where you say towards the end. “Consume God’s Word daily and let it do its work within your heart. “. I like the with IN your heart. It seems most things work from the inside out. Thanks 🦃

  3. Easy read. I had never heard this “in” clarification before. It is a very helpful distinction and one I am certain I will draw on often going forward.


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