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)
Over the years I’ve heard this passage explained two different ways.
The first one, which seems most common says, if you are in a bad situation, you don’t thank God for the situation, but rather in the midst of the situation, you thank Him for who he is. I’ve generally found myself over here.
The other view, popularized by Merlin Carothers in his book, Prison to Praise, says basically that you praise God for the situation. “God thank you (to use a personal example) that my transmission died and my furnace died a week a part.” I like a lot of people I know have struggle with this take on it.
So I recently posted a few things from the ongoing saga of the Wilson household…but in the midst of it I tried an experiment…”God, thank you that our car died.” Now there were a couple of things I could really be thankful for…it didn’t happen in North Carolina on the way back from Florida. Liz considered taking the kids from the youth group in it to the conference in Maryland that weekend. I was extremely thankful that it died in my garage.
Now, our old van was great…we had 165000 miles on it, including 2 trips to Florida. But we knew the end was coming sooner rather than later…Within 2 days of the old car dying, my parents, who had been thinking about upgrading, decided that since they were driving to Florida in less than a week, now was the time to pull the trigger. So they sold us their van for the amount the dealer would give them on a trade in. And we were able to take care of that for about the cost of our tax return! And if it happened a week later, it would have been in Florida & we would not have been able to get it.
The furnace was a bit tougher…but I still tried. “God, I’m not sure how this works, but thank you that our furnace died.” Upgrading a car was a little easier figure out than a furnace. Part of what this did was make us decide whether we are staying or moving. We’d thought about moving to a different neighborhood…(one a little further from some student/party houses). But we decided, let’s get the best model, and commit to staying here for the foreseeable future.
Then we thought, since we are staying, we should look in to refinancing. And it turns out we’ll be able to add the new furnace to our new mortgage, and still end up paying about what we are paying now! And of course our heating bills go down…this system will deal more effectively with Liz’s & Erin’s allergies, and have a humidifier to deal with the dry skin.
So on the front end, 2 situations that looked bad. But, 2 situations that have been major pluses!
Romans says that God works all things together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. If I’m thanking, & praising God, despite my situation, to an extent I have separated him from that situation. This stinks, but you are still God, so thank you for that. Maybe, even when it looks pretty bad, we can be thankful for the situation not because it is enjoyable to go through, but because we can recognize that it is another opportunity for him to glorify himself!
So God, thank you for our current situation with the building! Thank you that this is simply one more opportunity to demonstrate to us & to our city, that you really are God!