Persecution, Death, and Other Things to be Thankful For

My wife bought me a tub of double fudge brownie ice cream yesterday. I am thankful for that.

My furnace actually turned on and worked this Fall. I am very thankful.

My children have avoided the yearly Fall illness so far. Definitely thankful for that because I always end up getting it after them.

Giving thanks for good stuff is easy. In fact, it’s often automatic. A good thing happens and without a thought we say, “Cool, thanks!”

What’s tough is that we’re not told to just give thanks for the good stuff. The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I would like to teach you a little bit of Greek. I learned Greek in seminary, so I must use it for something. The Greek word for “all” means “all.” No really, I’m serious.

When you apply your new-found Greek knowledge to Ephesians 5:20, you will note that we are to be thankful for all things, and all things actually means. . .all things. Not just good things. Not just mediocre things. All things.

“All things” includes sickness and pain. All things like persecution and tribulation. All things like the death of loved ones. All things like losing a job.

This seems rather bizarre. How can a person be thankful for bad stuff?

I think Paul gives the reason why we should be thankful for all things–because of our Father, whom we have access to through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I don’t think Paul means for us to have a fake happy attitude about bad things. I don’t think Paul is saying to be oh so happy when disaster strikes.

What I do think Paul means is that eternity is bigger. We have this thing called hope, which is wrapped up in our promises in Christ.

In Romans, Paul says, “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).

We give thanks because bad things often drive us closer to God. The testing of our faith works patience (James 1:3). We grow the most through suffering.

We give thanks because this life isn’t all there is. We give thanks because in eternity all things will be set right and righteousness will reign. We give thanks because all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We give thanks because Christ has opened the way to the Father. We give thanks because no matter what crummy thing happens to us, nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39)!

We have much to be thankful for. We have an eternity with Christ to be thankful for! The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

Give thanks in all things, because you have Christ, and Christ is greater than all things.