In Everything Give Thanks

  • A young mother learns she has terminal cancer.
  • A bus taking a church group to a ski resort overturns, injuring many and leaving one young woman permanently paralyzed.
  • A child crossing the street is struck and killed by a drunk driver.
  • A Christian girl is abducted by two men, though she shares Jesus with them and pleads for mercy; she is brutally raped, tortured, and murdered.
  • A missionary is killed by the tribe he came to serve after only two weeks of ministry.
  • A young father working a second job as a convenience store clerk is killed by a teenager on drugs who holds up the store.
These are just a few of the stories we read about almost every day in the newspaper and see on T.V.—tragedies that touch every one of us in one form or another, leaving people broken, and grieving with one question burning in their hearts—
“Why did this happen?” “Where is God when bad things happen to good people?”

I mean, if we could see a direct relationship between our sufferings and our sins, a connection between our tragedies and our transgressions—then maybe we could begin to understand the whys of our adversities. But when tragedy strikes and there seems to be no reason, no correlation with sin, we are often left with the feeling that we have been mistreated by God and that He is unjust in His dealings with us.
This leads to feelings of fear, anger and even bitterness toward this God we thought we knew as a God of love and compassion. As Christians we believe in a loving all-powerful God Who is in control of this universe.  
A God Who claims that He is good and has our best interests at heart. If that is so, then why do so many bad things happen to those who love Him and belong to Him?
J.B. Phillips said:
“If God were small enough to figure out, He wouldn’t be big enough to worship.”
Adversities can make us bitter or better depending on how we handle them.  In 1Thess. 5:18 Paul admonished us:  
“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you who are Christians.”
Notice that Paul says, “In everything not for everything give thanks.” However, you won’t thank God in everything until you first learn to trust God in everything—and trusting God in everything won’t be impossible unless you believe three things about Him:

1.   That God is Sovereign

This means that not only is God aware of everything that touches my life—it further means that He is in absolute control of everything that touches my life! Nothing happens in my life except what God allows for His purposes.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
It doesn’t say “we see all things working together for our good…”, it says “we know it by faith” because of what God has told us in His word.  Now, the fact that God is sovereign or all-powerful wouldn’t comfort me in times of difficulty or adversity if I didn’t believe the second truth—
2.   That God Loves Me
You see if God was all-powerful but a cruel despot that wouldn’t comfort me—it would terrify me! The fact that God is all-powerful and at the same time is all-loving is a tremendous comfort to me.  
God loves us with all of His heart, which He proved on Calvary—“ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom.5:8)
The Bible clearly teaches that God’s sovereignty and His love always work together for my ultimate good. (Rom.8:28)
I have to believe this by faith because my circumstances don’t always show me that this is true. The devil is always trying to get me to use my circumstances to judge the love and goodness of God by.  But these 2 truths—that God is sovereign and that God loves me with all of His heart, still wouldn’t be enough to comfort me in times of great adversity if I didn’t believe one more thing about God—
3.   That God is Infinitely Wise
God is so much wiser than I am—a truth I accept in principle but not always in practice. There are many things that God allows to happen in my life or in the lives of others that, honestly, I really don’t understand.
I look at the situation and say to myself, “If I were God I wouldn’t have let that happen”, or “If I were God I wouldn’t have done things that way…”
The problem is I’m not God! I can’t see the big picture like God—I only have limited information of the situation. However, that never seems to stop me from making judgments based on my limited understanding—judgments which often cause me to question the wisdom of God.
Peter said that the problem with us is that “we only see what is near and not what is afar off.” In other words we can’t see the future so we don’t know what is coming down the road tomorrow or next week or next year—but God does.
I need to realize that God is often working in my life today, preparing me today for what He knows is coming tomorrow, next week, next month or even 5 years down the road! So, I have to trust in the sovereignty, the love and the wisdom of God because, like a 3-legged stool, these truths will hold me up when my circumstances try to knock me down.
They will keep me going by strengthening me in my adversity—by the faith of knowing that everything is working together for good in my life by the One Who loves me and gave His life for me!
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
This morning we find ourselves living in difficult times—our country is divided and hatred abounds. On top of that, many in our country have lost their jobs—and with it their health insurance. For many of these people, their health is declining, their bills are rising—and they’re not sure how they’re going to make it.
We are living at a time when, because of the uncertainty of the future, many people are experiencing a considerable amount of fear, anxiety and stress—and even Christians are not immune—so what are we to do?
We must keep our eyes on our God and trust in His ability to take care of us and bring us thru whatever storm of life we are facing—and all the anxiety and stress that comes with it.
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

You see folks, that’s the key! The key to experiencing this peace is that you have to keep your thoughts (your mind) fixed on God, because you trust Him and have absolute confidence in His strength, love and wisdom towards you.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
So walk each day in faith, and in everything give God thanks—this is well-pleasing to Him! Never forget—He is infinitely powerful, infinitely loving and infinitely wise—and, if you’ve received Jesus as your Lord and Savior—you belong to Him and are His child.
He will never leave you nor forsake you and His thoughts and plans are only good towards you.
May the Lord be with you and may He bless you abundantly as you walk with Him day by day!
Pastor Phil