Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
“Betsie, how can we live in such a place?” she wailed.
They were Hollanders caught in the German invasion of their country. Discovering they held Jewish sympathies, the Nazis arrested the family and carted them off to prison. Eventually, all found freedom—except Corrie and Betsie.
Traveling between prison camps, the sisters wondered where they were headed this time. They soon found out: Ravensbruck, the notorious death camp. In addition to the lice infesting their bedding, fleas infected their barracks. When Corrie complained, Betsie reminded her of the Bible’s command to give thanks in all circumstances. Corrie didn’t understand.
Guards crammed fourteen hundred women into Barracks 28—an area designed to house four hundred. The flea infestation was so severe the guards wouldn’t enter the barracks. Only then did Corrie understand how Betsie could thank God for these conditions. Since the guards didn’t monitor their activity, Betsie and Corrie led Bible studies where many women found comfort in the pages of Scripture and where many came to know Jesus as Savior.
Betsie followed Paul’s admonition. He also knew about challenging surroundings, but chose to give thanks anyway.
Thankfulness in all situations requires changing our state of mind. I’m more prone to complain than to thank. Corrie was too. It took Betsie to show her an alternate way. God can show us the same. Such a state of mind comes easier when we remember God’s in control of our situations.
Although they often do, circumstances shouldn’t determine whether or not we have a thankful attitude. Paul doesn’t imply we should get happy about our circumstances, but we can give thanks in them. Being happy about a tragedy is ludicrous, but I can choose to thank God in that circumstance. Doing so helps change my state of mind.
When we’re thankful in all circumstances, it reminds us things could be worse—and often are for others. It doesn’t take looking very far to find someone facing shoddier situations than we face. Seeing several homeless men in our area keeps me continually reminded of this truth.
As ironic as it might appear, giving thanks in all circumstances actually brings peace of mind. Obedience does this. And so does believing in a God who controls all things and who works all things together for the good of His children.
Regardless of what God brings or allows into your life, be thankful.
Tweetable: Are you thankful in all situations?
Prayer: Father, give us the faith to thank You daily, even in the direst circumstances.