Is it possible to give thanks in all circumstances?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thess 5:18

Is this really possible to do? Is it really possible to ‘give thanks’ when our circumstances are horrible? What fuels thankfulness when life seems to be one discouragement, disappointment, disease, disaster, and death after another?

It’s such a great question – such a Christian question – one that we know we should be able to answer (surely, it’s got to have something to do with Jesus?) – and yet one that seems so elusive when the going gets tough.

I’ve been pondering this question all week and was greatly blessed when I came across a fantastically helpful article on DesiringGod. There the author makes the argument that for both Jesus and us future joy fuels thankful endurance.

How was Jesus able to ‘endure the cross’ in spite of the pain and the shame? ‘For the joy set before him’ – knowing that afterward he would be ‘seated at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Heb 12:2).

How are we able to thankfully endure any and all circumstances? Because in Christ Jesus, having placed our trust in him, we have ahead of ourselves the very best possible future we could ever imagine:

  • We have the free gift of complete forgiveness for all your sins extending into forever (Rom 6:23).
  • We will have all your real needs provided while on earth (Phil 4:19).
  • We will receive all the grace you need at all times so that you will abound in every good work God has for you (2 Cor 9:8).
  • God will complete the good work he began in us (Phil 1:6).
  • We will be raised from the dead and never, ever die again (1 Cor 15:52–53).
  • We will have God forever (1 Pet 3:18) as our exceeding joy (Ps 43:4).

May our future joy fuel our thankful endurance, so that we might ‘give thanks to the Lord, for his is good. His love endures forever’ (Ps 136:1).