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Thankfulness: In Everything?

By Gary D. Stratman
Whatever things are of good report, whatever things are valuable, give thanks for them. Even though you can't see the value at first, meditate, calculate, reckon, think on them and they become more clear. Even in those things that are obscure, give thanks.

In All Things Objectionable, Give Thanks

I saved the toughest for last and you know it. In all things objectionable, give thanks. This is the one with which we have the most difficulty.

"Do you mean to say I am to give thanks for this tough patch that I am going through?" "Am I supposed to give thanks for this thorn in the flesh that doesn't seem to be taken from me?" That's a tough one, isn't it? But if we are to have an attitude of thanks that can transform the situation, we are to give thanks in all things objectionable.

Quite naturally you may say, "I'm not going to give thanks for this illness," or "I'm not going to give thanks for what this person has done to me." Then at least start here: Give thanks for the Presence of God in that situation, that God has not left you. Even though you had a setback, God is still present and willing to redeem the situation. Then there's the next step. Begin to realize that even through the worst circumstances God can work. Isn't the risen, living Christ the great reminder that even the evil of the cross can be transformed into new and exalted life?

I remember Corrie ten Boom. She died after many years of serving the Lord. What a remarkable, gracious lady. She and her family lived through the Nazi holocaust and they hid Jewish people in their home who would otherwise have been killed. When she was in a Nazi prison camp it was such a flea-ridden, terrible place that she couldn't stand it.

Her older sister Betsy said, "But I have found something in the Bible that will help us. It says, 'In all things, give thanks'." Corrie said, "I can't give thanks for the fleas." Betsy said, "Give thanks that we're together. Most families have been split up." Corrie thought, "I can do that."

Her sister continued, "Give thanks that somehow the guards didn't check our belongings and our Bible is with us." She gave thanks for that. But Corrie would not even think of giving thanks for the fleas. Later they found out that the only reason they were not molested and harmed by the guards was because their "captors" were so repulsed by the fleas that they would not go in. Give thanks even for those lowly creatures!

In the town of Enterprise, Alabama, there is a monument in the middle of the town square. You'd think it's probably of a Confederate general. It's not. It's a monument to a boll weevil. A boll weevil is an animal that destroys cotton. That town depended upon cotton. In 1915 the boll weevil destroyed their livelihood, but through this they learned the importance of diversified farming. They learned to plant peanuts, corn and other crops. In two years they erected a monument to the boll weevil to be a reminder that through a terrible event, good things came to their town.

The Old Testament patriarch Joseph said to his brothers, who sold him into slavery and would have killed him, "You meant this to be for evil but God meant it for good." That was his monument to the power of God to bring good out of apparent evil.

God can use even the worst in the circumstances of this fallen world to bring the best about. You know why we can believe that? Because God certainly did not want His Son to die on the cross but, when it became necessary, the despised instrument of death became the way we could come to know God. The cross became the means by which we can give thanks in all things, those things obvious, obscure and even objectionable. In everything, give thanks.

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