The Absence of one Little Word

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Another translation says: “Give thanks whatever happens”, but have you noticed the word that isn’t there? Does it say to give thanks for all circumstances, to give thanks for whatever happens? It doesn’t, and I’m glad about that.

I heard recently about Corrie Ten Boom when she was in a concentration camp during World War 2. She and her sister were placed in a dormitory infested with fleas, and her sister used the verse above to encourage her to give thanks – even for those fleas. As it turned out, because they knew the dormitory was flea-infested, the camp guards wanted nothing to do with it, so they got much more freedom than they would otherwise have had. God certainly works all things in our lives together for our good (Romans 8:28). Perhaps without those fleas they wouldn’t have survived, but if you ask me, being thankful for them was going above and beyond. They could still have been thankful in their circumstance without being thankful for it. “Lord, thank You that the fleas put the guards off coming to our door, but please help us because getting bitten all the time is a struggle” would have been my sort of prayer, and I think that’s all God asks. He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him – struggles, thanks and all.

I don’t have to be thankful for the cancer my mum had, but I can be thankful that she got through the chemo with minimal side-effects. I can be thankful for all the care and support family, friends and neighbours showed her.

I don’t have to be thankful for my blindness, but I can be thankful that God’s meeting my needs within that. I have a volunteer to read my post regularly; disability benefits are generous enough that I can have a good quality of life and book taxies if I need to; I have family and close friends in my life.

I don’t have to be thankful for not being in paid employment, but I can be thankful for the volunteering opportunities I’ve had and still have.

I don’t have to be thankful for my singleness, but I can thank God for friendship, for the privilege of spending time with someone and hearing their laughter.

Have a think about some of the circumstances in your life. Are you thankful in them or for them?


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