“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Our culture loves the BIG things. New cars, job promotions, inheritances, and brown bags full of money on the side of the street. Our lives love BIG moments. Graduations, weddings, baptism. It’s easy to be thankful about these things; it’s in our nature to be thankful about the BIG. They consume our attention and memories. However, when you really think about it, days come and go. And the reality is that most of them don’t include these big events. Most of them are very average and similar to the one before. We are frequently forgetting the small things. Small joys. Like the morning commute without any accidents, the encouraging phone call, a great cup of coffee, or the simple fact that we woke up this morning.
As Bonhoeffer says, “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?”
Within this tension of “big vs. small”, a very important question must be addressed: How do we become a people who learn to “give thanks in all circumstances”? How do we find thankfulness in suffering and sorrow? How do we go from ‘Gethsemane to gratitude’?
This is done with a careful understanding of what Paul is trying to say. He is NOT saying, “be thankful for all circumstances”. Which, at times, could be very confusing. Some situations are (to put it bluntly) crappy. Misfortunes happen and will continue. Genesis 3 opened up the door for this. And on the other side of the coin lies the big, exciting days that I’ll remember forever. Days that (usually) force me to be thankful out of an overflow of joy. Regardless of the state of my heart, I know Truth. I know that I can be thankful in the midst of these situations, because I know a God that is sovereign and comforting in any and all of these. Each day. In EVERY circumstance.
As easy as it is to get wrapped up in the monumental events, it is the little things, pieced together, that make a life. And it is these things that we must remember to be thankful for.