Every November I decide that I should start being thankful about things. I like to think that I am thankful the rest of the year too, but I become especially aware of it when Thanksgiving gets close. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for:[unordered_list style="tick"]
- My loving family
- A nice warm home
- Tickets to see Trans Siberian Orchestra the other day and was able to meet the lead violinist
- Two cars that work most of the time
- More food than I know what to do with
- Clean water
- A cell phone to occupy every spare second
- Ice cream
And the list goes on and on. Do you remember this old song?[quote]Count your blessings name them one by one,
Count your blessings see what God has done,
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done![/quote]
Wow! That makes me feel especially spiritual that I knew those lyrics by heart and didn’t have to Google them! Anyhow, as I look over my list and the lyrics to the song I notice that something is missing. Do you see it?
The list I quickly scribbled down has good things, right? We can all probably be thankful for those things. And the song sounds particularity chipper to me. Counting our blessings is good, of course, but that seems to be the only thing that we focus on when it comes to giving thanks. Come on! Anyone that can fog a glass can be thankful for ice cream!
The verse that really puts my thankfulness into a tailspin is 1 Thessalonians 5:18.[quote]In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)[/quote]
The word that really bothers me is the second one…everything. What the heck is that supposed to mean? In everything? Really? Come on!
Since I figured that this could just be a mistake in the English translation of the Bible I looked it up in the Greek and found the word πᾶς (pas). Honestly, I was looking for a loophole. Something that would allow me to be thankful for lovely sunsets but not for the jerk who took my parking spot at the mall the other day! So I looked up the definition of this offending word:[quote]πᾶς (pas): each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything.[/quote]
Well, there isn’t much wiggle room there! Here I am obliviously thinking that I am a thankful person, thanking God for roses and daisies and now I realize that I have to be thankful for poison ivy too?? I have a hard enough time being thankful for the good things, much less the bad things.
What if this verse is NOT utter nonsense? What IF we are actually supposed to be thankful for EVERYTHING? Would that affect our life at all? I don’t know, but I am willing to try it.
When I started writing this article I was thinking that I should think about the worst things in my life and choose to be thankful for them, and then try to find the good in it. Maybe that isn’t horrible advice, but it might not fit every situation.
Two weeks ago my car started overheating and I thought I was going to have to throw it away. My father-in-law helped me replace the radiator for $100 and not it works better and I learned a new skill. Whoopee for me! But what if I am also thankful that my riding mower just died and I don’t know what I’m going to do about it? Can I really thank God for that?
Can I thank God for the allergies that my kids face every day? Can I thank Him about the things that make me mad? Can I thank God for the problems that I face in my life even though I don’t know how they will work out?
That’s a lot tougher for me. I hope you are better at it. However, I think that God wants us to really be thankful for everything. Not just the good things, and not just the bad things that we can find good in. How about the bad, horrible and ugly things that defy explanation? Can we be thankful for those things? Are we able to say, “Thank you Lord that this happened?”