Why We Can Thank God in Everything
Throughout God’s Word, we find the instruction to “give thanks.” Here are a few examples:
“Give thanks unto the Lord, and call upon his name: make known his doings among the nations.” (I Chronicles 16:8).
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. ” (I Chronicles 16:34).
“Sing to the Lord, O ye his saints, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 30:4).
One verse in the New Testament defines when we are to “give thanks.” I Thessalonians 5:18 says: “ In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.” There are no boundaries, no “exception clauses” in regard to when we are to give thanks. We are to give thanks “in every thing.”
How does this truth relate to the suffering we experience? Does it mean we are to be thankful when a young mother dies of cancer? Does it mean you should give thanks when you lose your job? Does it mean we should rejoice when a couple suffers the anguish of multiple miscarriages?
Thanking God in all things does not mean that we thank God for evil. Rather, we are to thank God in the midst of all things. With their decision to sin, Adam and Eve rejected God’s plan for a life without pain and sorrow, and the curse they received fell on all who have been born since then. The good news is that God the Father has redeemed us from that curse through the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus: that we may receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. ” (Galatians 3:13–14). Therefore, as an act of redemption, God is able to take any circumstance that Satan or others intended for evil and redeem it for God’s glory and our good.
Let’s look at four reasons why we can and should thank God in everything.
1. God is sovereign over all things.
Job was the most righteous man of his day; God was well pleased with him. However, Satan scorned God’s praise of Job, predicting that Job would curse God if God removed the hedge of protection around all of Job’s possessions and family.
God gave Satan permission to afflict Job—within certain limits. In a single day, Job lost 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 donkeys. On the same day, Job’s seven sons and three daughters were killed when the house in which they were gathered collapsed. When Job was informed of these tragedies, he could have said, “The Lord gave, and Satan has taken away!” Instead, Job declared, “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).
Then God gave Satan permission to go even further and destroy Job’s health. Soon painful sores covered Job’s body. What was Job’s response to this evil? He said, “If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil? In all these things Job did not sin with his lips. ” (Job 2:10). Job realized that God was sovereign—in control of all things at all times. He knew that God could have prevented this suffering, and Job chose to trust God in the face of this unprecedented onslaught at the hand of Satan.
Until we understand that ultimately everything comes through, if not from, the good hand of God, we will never be able to develop a grateful spirit. Job responded correctly to the losses and suffering inflicted upon him. You and I are called to walk in the same faith in God that Job demonstrated.
2. Ultimately, as a child of God, everything is for your good.
Many believers are familiar with the promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” It is important to note that this promise is made “to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. To them that are called to be saints” This promise is only for believers, because as children of God, He directs all of our steps. Our heavenly Father has also made this promise: “For God loveth mercy and truth: the Lord will give grace and glory. He will not deprive of good things them that walk in innocence: ” (Psalm 84:11; see also Romans 8:29–32).
When Satan tormented the Apostle Paul with a physical infirmity, Paul petitioned God three times, asking God to deliver him from it. However, God chose not to remove Paul’s infirmity, and Paul’s own words explain the reason why God chose to say no to Paul’s request for deliverance: “And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.” (II Corinthians 12:7). In God’s eyes, the benefits of Paul’s suffering outweighed the cost of it.
There are some things that come to us that we would not classify as good. Sometimes God allows us to see the reasons why He allows hardships to come into our lives. For example, in the Biblical account of Joseph’s life, when his jealous brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph surely did not regard his situation as a blessing. However, in later years Joseph was able to discern God’s bigger plan.
When his brothers sought forgiveness for their cruelty toward him, Joseph said, “And he answered them: Fear not: can we resist the will of God? You thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present you see, and might save many people. Fear not: I will feed you and your children. And he comforted them, and spoke gently and mildly.” (Genesis 50:19–21).
3. Every experience can produce Godly character in your life.
Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for our good, and Romans 8:29 explains how and why everything works together for our good: “For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son;” God’s goal is to make us like His Son, Jesus Christ.
Christ is the express image of the Father. “God . . . spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all....In these days hath spoken to us by his Son....,Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance . . . making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1–3). The Greek word translated as express image is the word character. It refers to an engraving as in a stamp for an exact likeness, the exact expression of any person or thing, a precise reproduction in every respect.
As we yield—by faith—to God’s goal of conforming us to the image and the character of His Son Jesus, each circumstance in a believer’s life functions as a tool that can shape him or her into the “exact likeness” of Christ. Even Jesus learned obedience as He yielded to His Father’s will, through suffering: “And whereas indeed he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered:” (Hebrews 5:8).
4. Everything has the potential to teach you God’s ways.
God desires to fellowship with His children. However, two people who have opposite perspectives about everything cannot enjoy true fellowship. Our natural thoughts are completely opposite from God’s thoughts. “For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9).
As a means to teach us to think God’s thoughts after Him, God exposes us to trials and afflictions, which He uses to motivate us to seek Him and know Him. The writer of Psalm 119 gave this testimony: “It is good for me that thou hast humbled me through afflictions, that I may learn the justifications of thy statutes. ” (Psalm 119:71).
When we seek God in the face of trials and suffering, we can come to know Him better. The Israelites’ leader Moses said to the Lord, “If therefore I have found favour in thy sight, shew me thy face, that I may know thee, and may find grace before thy eyes . . .” (Exodus 33:12–13). The purpose of knowing God’s ways is to know God.
When we remember God’s sovereignty, His goodness toward His children, the value of becoming more the like Christ, and the opportunity to learn more of God’s ways, we have a reason to rejoice in any circumstance. God is able to use every situation for good in our lives.
“. . . for I am God, and there is no God beside, neither is there the like to me: Who shew from the beginning the things that shall be at last, and from ancient times the things that as yet are not done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and all my will shall be done . . . and I have spoken, and will bring it to pass: I have created, and I will do it. ” (Isaiah 46:9–11).