thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18
17th century Bible scholar, Matthew Henry, was once mugged by thieves and
robbed of his wallet. He wrote these lines in his diary: “Let me be thankful,
first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took
my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all,
it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who
Yes, there’s always something to be thankful for. And at this time of year, as our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, I’d like to focus on 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” No matter what you’re going through, God has called you to give thanks in ALL circumstances—even when you’re anxious, worried and stressed out. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat of
this exciting chapter, Jehoshaphat learned that three enemy nations—the
Moabites, Ammonites and some of the Meunites—had merged their armies and were
When the people gathered to pray, Jehoshaphat laid the cold, hard facts before God: “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do …” And then the key words: “… but our eyes are upon You” (v. 12). God’s spirit responded through one of the Levites: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v. 15). The Lord went on to instruct them: “Tomorrow march down against them….Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you” (v. 17). The next day, Jehoshaphat carried out one of the most unorthodox military strategies in the history of warfare. Instead of having cavalry or spearmen lead the charge, he put his PRAISE TEAM in the front line to sing to God. We even have some of their lyrics recorded for us in verse 21: “Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures forever.” God’s response? He set ambushes that caused the three armies to turn on each other. When Jehoshaphat and his men arrived at the scene, they found nothing but dead bodies. God wiped out all three enemy armies without the Israelites even having to lift a sword. Just as God had prophesied, the battle belonged to the LORD. No one can convince me there’s not power in thankfulness and praise.
When we’re stressed, how can we possibly give thanks to God?
Step #1: Begin by humbly taking your problems and stresses to God. There are any number of things King Jehoshaphat COULD have done when he heard the news of the invasion. But his first reaction was to do something entirely different—the same entirely different thing that you and I should do when someone drops a huge stressor in our lap. Jehoshaphat’s first response was to pray … REALLY pray … and to mobilize everyone around him to pray. Jehoshaphat was able to be thankful later, because he was prayerful first. If you want to lean on God in the midst of your stress, anxiety and fear, you need to start responding to your stresses differently. Instead of acting first and praying later, you need to pray first and act later.
Step #2: Take hold of both the commands and the promises of God. One of the reasons we get so stressed out is because we don’t even TRY to obey God’s most oft-repeated command in the whole Bible: “Do not be afraid.” And the Holy Spirit can help us “fear not” when we remember and believe the promises of God. God has made certain promises to you and me, and we need to believe them and take hold of them.
Step #3: Praise God for who He is, and thank God for what He’s done. It will feed your faith and lower your anxiety. Nine times out of 10, when we’re stressed it’s because we’ve taken our eyes off God. Praising God for who He is, and thanking Him for what He’s done, re-directs our attention to God and reminds us that He is much bigger and stronger than our problems. That being the case, there is always, always, ALWAYS something to praise and thank God for.
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Pastor Dane’s latest book (Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God) is NOW available at Amazon. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc or www.Called2Persevere.com.