In Everything Give Thanks

I recently bit the proverbial bullet and purchased Audible for my daily commutes to and from work (and to and from everywhere else I go that takes at least half an hour). I’ve been listening to the Jan Karon Father Tim books lately.

The gist is that Father Tim is an episcopal priest in a small town in North Carolina called Mitford. It’s a lot like Mayberry with lots of quirky, interesting characters and quaint small town charm.

In one part, Father Tim gives his shortest sermon ever. He takes four words from the Apostle Paul as his text and message to his congregants — in everything give thanks.

I like that. In everything give thanks. Note that it does not say FOR everything give thanks, but IN everything give thanks. And yes, there is a difference.

No one thanks God for the loss of a job or a terminal illness or the death of a loved one. No one thanks God for pain just for the sake of pain. But Paul said that you can thank God in the midst of the pain that God is using to refine your character by producing the fruits of the Spirit in you. You can give thanks that God is indeed working even the pain and suffering in you for good and for a greater purpose that only He can see.

Whether it’s yet another relationship that you had thought would be “the one” that ended badly, you can give thanks. When it’s a complete upheaval of your world brought on by a new job in a new state, you can give thanks. When it’s seeing loved ones grow old and get sick and lose their vitality, you can give thanks.

Again, you’re not giving thanks FOR being broken up with or FOR the chaos in your life or FOR seeing those you love suffer. You give thanks in the midst of those things because you know God is faithful. God can and will turn sorrow into joy, pain into triumph, and loss into gain. God can and will work in these circumstances a glorious outcome that will be more than worth anything you lost.

In everything give thanks. That’s my new mantra. That’s your new mantra. No matter what, in each and every circumstance, at all times, give thanks.

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