Want to Know the Will of God for Your Life? Give Thanks.

white candles on round table

Want to know what the will of God is for your life? Give thanks. No, don’t give thanks in order to coax God into laying out His will for you; giving thanks is God’s will for you. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  (emphasis added)

1 Thess. 5:18

So often, I focus on seeking God’s will for the “big” things in my life, but miss His will for the “small” things in my life, which aren’t really small at all. Thankfulness, for instance, is clearly Biblically part of God’s will for me and is commanded throughout the Scriptures as a key component of the Christian life. And yet, I can be so focused on seeking God to reveal the next step or direction of my life that I forget the will of God that He’s already revealed. 

There are certainly times when we should be asking God for direction for the big things in our lives and seeking wisdom and revelation in our next steps, but we can’t miss the clear revelations He’s given us through His Word in the process. And if our hearts are after God’s answers instead of God, we have to consider that maybe we’re actually more into ourselves than our God.

God Is Not A Magic 8 Ball

I sometimes treat God like a Magic 8 Ball, seeking His answers instead of actually seeking Him. I can become more interested in knowing God’s plan than knowing God. But part of God’s plan for every Christian is found so plainly in the Scriptures in the command to be thankful. And through our thankfulness, we’ll actually not only be in the will of God, but we’ll know more of God. Gratitude moves our eyes off of ourselves, our gifts, or our lack, and sets our eyes back onto our great Giver.

Thankfulness is a practice in seeing God. It’s a practice in seeing His involvement in every minute detail of our creation and our days. From giving us breath in our lungs for another day, to our salvation, to answered prayers, job promotions, children, to family and friends. Thankfulness is also a practice in seeing God as the God of all comfort in trials and tribulations, a God of redemption in messy situations, and an unshakeable, faithful God in the midst of shaky circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 doesn’t only command us to be thankful, but it goes even further:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  (emphasis added)

1 Thess. 5:18

God’s will for you and me is not only to be thankful, which can be hard enough, but to be thankful in all circumstances. Several years ago, I had a miscarriage two weeks before Thanksgiving. Losing a baby, even early on, is not exactly something that naturally stirs up thankfulness in your heart. And, yet, in that season I had hope. I had hope that one day I would get to meet that baby and hope that, even though it was not good, Jesus would even use my pain and my suffering for my good. And for that, I am so thankful. Even in the worst of circumstances, we have the hope of redemption and the promise of eternal life. 

The Thankful Heart of Christ

As I meditate on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 this Thanksgiving season, I can’t help but think of Jesus. We have a Savior who not only knew God’s specific plan for His life, but also perfectly obeyed the command to be thankful in all circumstances. He gave thanks in times of abundance as loaves and fishes were multiplied (Matt. 15:36), but also in times of darkness. 

Jesus gave thanks as He took communion with His disciples at the Last Supper. He broke bread, knowing His body would be broken for them. He drank wine, knowing His blood would be spilled for them. And yet, He thanked God (Matt. 26:26-28). Jesus completely obeyed the will of God by giving thanks in all circumstances. Though He knew the path God had laid out for Him would be filled with grief, betrayal, and unspeakable suffering, He had a thankful heart even as His death drew near. 

Jesus trusted God’s will, knowing the pain and suffering would actually be used by God to bring about good, wholeness, redemption, and eternal glory for those He loves. He knew His death wouldn’t end in death, but with the glory of the resurrection. Because Jesus was faithful to obey the will of the Father, we who once had thankless hearts can now live in the will of God with hearts of praise and thanksgiving even in the darkest times because we know that our story too will not end in death, but with eternal life. What could we possibly be more thankful for?

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