“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:18-20 NLT
Paul wrote that we should give thanks for everything. Hang on a minute – everything? For that unexpected bill that has just fallen through the letter box? For the dressing down we have just had from the boss? Surely he meant just the good things that have happened to us.
Perhaps the key words are “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Why should Jesus’ name matter? In faith we should call on Jesus with a thankful heart, grateful for the good things that we have experienced and in faith that He will come through for us when bad things are in danger of overwhelming us. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ“. God wants us to be a thankful people. Not people who look at their circumstances and go down the tubes, ending up in misery and depression.
Pilgrims look at, and live in, the world around them. The bad news is that faith in Jesus, being a Christian, will not prevent the problems rolling in. After all, Jesus said in John 16:33,“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
So we can give thanks in everything, because even when the bills are stacking up, when inflation is eroding our income, when sickness is dragging us down, we know that through Jesus we have the strength to overcome them all. So in faith-filled prayer we present our needs to Jesus and thank Him that the answers are coming. The scoffers and cynics dismiss our faith as just a deluded form of escapism and predict our ruin. But the God I worship made a promise to me – in Philippians 4:19 we read, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus”. God has more than enough resources to go round and He knows what we need.
God will sometimes have other plans for us. I love the story in Daniel where the Jewish lads refused to bow down before a statue of Nebuchadnezzar. We read in Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up“. There is a dear young Christian woman I know who lost her husband, at the age of 37, to cancer. Two young children under 5. How will she ever be able to thank God in her circumstances? I don’t have an answer other than we live in a sinful world and the devil’s wickedness will take its course. But I do know that our loving Heavenly Father is there for her and will provide for her. And one day He will wipe away her tears. Sometimes the answer to our prayers won’t be realised until we are in God’s presence.
So the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of pilgrims walk on together, our eternal home in sight. And together with thankful hearts we reach out to our loving Heavenly Father, secure in our status as sons and daughters of the greatest family that there has ever been.