Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
Friend to Friend
While in Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy dealt with appalling conditions. The women’s labor camp dorms were crammed into three high trough-like sleeping barracks with rancid hay as their bed.
The cramped conditions and lack of basic sanitation led to a lice and massive infestation of fleas. Corrie wondered how they could endure such a dreadful place.
Betsy prayed and told her sister they must “give thanks in all circumstances.”
Corrie wondered how she could possibly ever be thankful for the lice and the fleas?
Several weeks later, one of the supervisors was called in their barracks to view something Betsy was working on. The supervisor refused because the place was crawling with fleas.
Betsy then reminded her sister that it was the fleas that had allowed them so much freedom to form a bond with and pray and teach about Jesus to their entire barrack with little interference from their captors. Neither the supervisors or guards wanted to be in their barracks because of the lice and the fleas. Corrie then realized how she could be thankful even for a flea.
Every time I read this part of the true story “The Hiding Place,” I’m so humbled by the raw and real way God used these amazing, brave sisters in such a horrendous situation. And yes, He even used the fleas.
When the Apostle Paul instructed us to be thankful in all circumstances, he really did mean all. The good, the bad, and the ugly situations we face in life can absolutely impact our faith. When life is good, we decide we are good – and if we are honest, we decide God is good. But when the trials and storms knock us to our knees, our first response is often an accusation hidden in a question, “Where are You, God?”
I know life can be hard. Some of you are in so much pain that it is hard to breathe. But God knows where you are and what you are going through – and you really can trust Him. The apostle Paul had a firm grip on this truth.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11b-12 NIV).
The word “content” can best be defined as “contained.” Don’t miss this truth! Paul had trained himself to focus on his inner resources, the resources his heart contained rather than the outward circumstances of life. He chose to be grateful. He chose to praise God. Period. We hear his determination in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) when he says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
This old poem captures Paul’s truth well:
“I rejoice in knowing that
There is no oil without squeezing the olives,
No wine without pressing the grapes,
No fragrance without crushing the flowers
And no real joy without sorrow.”
An attitude of gratitude not only brings contentment, but it also encourages perseverance and produces strength. And gratitude is a choice – not a feeling. God entrusts trials to us, giving us the opportunity to choose gratitude.
Father, I come to You, confessing that I tend to have a heart that is filled with whining and complaining instead of gratitude. Please forgive me. Help me learn to see Your hand at work in my life. I want to trust You even when I don’t understand my circumstances. Right now, I choose to praise You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
We are all facing some kind of challenge today. Let’s choose to be grateful for the opportunity to trust God and grow in our faith.
Leave a comment and note one thing that you are thankful for today.
More from the Girlfriends
A great way to develop the holy habit of giving thanks is to search each day for the work of God in your life. Mary’s Joy Journal will help you establish that habit. Check it out!
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