In every circumstance, give thanks to God
Paul established the Church in Thessalonica during his second missionary journey in about A.D. 51. He wrote this letter a short time later to encourage the young believers. He wanted to assure them of his love and to praise them for their faithfulness in the face of persecution. Many of them met early death as a result of torture and because of their firm hope in Jesus Christ. But they had hope, for Christ will certainly return. Therefore, to be a follower of Christ meant to give up everything, yet, one is to be thankful, for victory, which Christ will secure for him or her at last.
Paul’s writing was, therefore, to serve as an exhortation as well as comfort to this group of believers. In all circumstance, whether good or bad, in sorrow or in joy, one is to give thanks to God for out of evil situation God can still make good to come out of it. No matter how hurting a situation may be, God can suddenly turn things around to favour His own.
Paul’s admonition is still relevant to us today. Notice, man by nature is an ungrateful being. Hardly can he consider the past deeds of God in his life or the present help being received from Him. In his ungratefulness, he repudiates the work of God in his life. Jesus was amazed in Luke 17:11-19, “the 10 Lepers were healed only a foreigner came back to give thanks.” Jesus now says: “are there not 10 lepers healed, only one returned to give thanks but where are the nine?”
At family level, we find it very frustrating even from our children to say THANK YOU to us. No matter what we do to make them happy and raise them up, they hardly express their thankfulness. It was in this state of affairs that in Shakespeare’s King Leah, Leah had to appeal to god of procreation to make her daughter Goneril childless. What was the reason, Leah observed: “how painful it is to have a thankless child.” What a great pain!
God expects us to thank Him for what He has done. We do not need to waste time in giving thanks to Him no matter the situation or circumstance we may find ourselves. A Scottish Methodist minister mounted to preach one Sunday morning and the weather was gloomy. The members of his congregation noted that he was always fond of giving thanks to God and on such a day, they said, they would find out what he will be thanking God for. True to form, the minister began by saying: “thanks to You O God, for it is not always like this.” What a good way to appreciate God!
Jacob in Gen. 32:10; noted with thankfulness: “then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’; 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth, which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.” It is always good to recall where we are coming from. For example, a one-time tenant, now a landlord, a taxi driver, now a car owner, once jobless but now with a good and paying job, a bachelor or spinster but now settled with children. People of God such should provoke thanksgiving from us to God. The Bible is replete with passages on thanksgiving a few may suffice here: Psalm 9:1; 92:1-2; Phil. 4:6-7; 95:2-3; Col. 3:16-17; Eph. 1:5-16.
Therefore, what are you waiting for today before going all out to thank God? Does it mean that God has not touched you in a way that you should be thankful to Him? In the little and great mercies we receive daily at His hands are they not enough for us to thank Him? Remember, no matter how gloomy or bad a situation may be, God can make from evil, good to come out from it. It is not good to lose hope, God will surprise us this year, what we need do is to form this spiritual habit of thanking Him always.
God’s assurance is for us today: “for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jer. 29:11). Also, “I will open rivers in desolate heights and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water,” (Isa. 41:18). May this God be our God in all circumstance and also receive our thanks! Amen.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.