In everything give thanks; for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances? I think I’d be much more comfortable with this verse if it said: “Give thanks to God in as many circumstances as possible, excluding car breakdowns, child behavior problems, and deployments.â€ After all, who could possibly expect me to be thankful during deployments?
The uncomfortable answer to that question: God does. God expects and desires my thanksgiving in all circumstances. God does not command us to be thankful for everything, but we are expected to give thanks in everything. I was relieved to realize that I didn’t have to be thankful for deployments, but convicted of my need to continue praising God even during deployments.
Picture the scene of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego with me. Three young Jewish men, taken from their homeland to serve in a foreign land, are going head to head with the king of an empire. King Nebuchadnezzar orders them to bow and worship his statue, and they refuse. He threatens them with death in a fiery furnace, and this is their reply:
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer you concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18, emphasis added).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did not know how God would act in their circumstances. In their lives, they had seen times when God provided safety and times when God allowed His people to suffer. They did not know if God would intervene, but they trusted Him completely, and they were prepared to praise Him all the way to the furnace.
The challenge is to recognize that God could choose to shower us with blessings–but regardless of whether he chooses to do so, we are to give thanks. God could keep my husband here at home with me all the time, but if not, I will thank God for the husband He has given me. God could give my children hearts of perfect obedience every day, but if not, I will thank God for being their Heavenly Father, who holds my children in His own hands. God could PCS my family to a warm and sunny climate near the beach where housing is abundant and the cost of living is low, but if not, I will thank God that He never leaves me alone, no matter where I am.
Do I give thanks in all circumstances, even those that are challenging or difficult?
Does my attitude of praise give glory to God in front of other people?
Lord, I thank You for Your word, which challenges and encourages me. I thank You for sending Your Son to provide my salvation, so that I can live in hope, regardless of my circumstances. I thank You also for ________ (fill in your own list here, as long as you like!) Give me a heart of gratitude, so that I may praise you in every situation. Amen.
*The above devotion is an excerpt from the book Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody Publishers 2008).