Giving thanks infuses joy and resilience into your daily life. British theologian John Henry Jowett said, ‘Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.’ Without gratitude your faith becomes a hollow religious practice, and your love for others crashes and burns, leaving you feeling drained of joy and acting like a martyr.
When Paul says, ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God,’ he’s not saying every circumstance you encounter is necessarily God’s will. He’s saying that thanksgiving is God’s will. Bill Salier observes that you’ll see in the fine-print of many insurance policies a let-out clause about an ‘act of God’. The Bible affirms that God is sovereign over all of creation, he says, and points out that it’s a very hard truth for us but many disasters are wake-up calls to a world that thinks it is in control. God is reminding us, ‘No, you’re not in control,’ and when we realise that, then we may actually come to look to and depend on the One who is in fact in control.
In fact, we begin to realise that in and through even the worst of circumstances God is working out His plan of redemption. Despite the disasters humanity causes by going our own way, God is still able to make all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (See Romans 8:28). And we should give thanks for that!
Bottom line: in any given set of circumstances you can choose to whine or choose to worship—and you can’t worship without giving thanks!