Scripture tells us to “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for such is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) But maybe for you 2020 doesn’t seem like a time when you feel like giving thanks and praise. How can we give thanks even when our circumstances are difficult?
Fr. John Gordon, a regular Morning Air® contributor, stopped by this week to talk about why and how we can give God praise no matter what we’re facing.
“One of the great things that God has given us, one of the signs that we have been touched by God’s grace, is a joyful spirit. It’s one of the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace,” he said.
“I believe that we can cultivate that joy, so it’s not just a happy feeling but it’s an expression of a truth. That God lives in me. But it’s very difficult to hold on to that, because the world is captivated by negativity and bad news. And we feed that to a certain extent.”
Drawing from his own experience, Fr. Gordon pointed out that the verse in Thessalonians says to give thanks in all circumstances, not just good ones. And while that is difficult, it is ultimately good for us.
He said, “I have discovered over and over again that when I give thanks and praise to God in each and every circumstance, no matter what it is, it unleashes a spiritual power and a grace. There is a spiritual principle at work that changes me in such a way that I no longer see just negativity, but I also see the hand and the power of God at work and present in that situation.”
That is not to say that you should just put on a happy face and pretend the suffering doesn’t exist. Fr. Gordon pointed out that we don’t have to thank God for the danger we face, the health issue we are battling, or the financial insecurity that is causing us anxiety. But we should give God praise despite those circumstances.
“I don’t thank God for those circumstances, I don’t thank him for the poor health, for the poor safety, or the poor finances, but I thank him through it,” Fr. Gordon explained. “In the presence of this difficulty I somehow realize that, even though I don’t feel it, I trust that God has a hand here. And when I praise God, one of the things I do is take my thoughts off myself, and my problems and concerns, and put the focus on the Lord risen from the dead.”
“When I start to do that, although nothing externally outside of me changes, I start changing within. And that’s a big difference of perspective. So I believe that spiritual principle of praising God in all circumstances, no matter what they be, still applies. Even in environments that are very desperate and difficult – they are very, very real but they are not as real as God’s love and presence.”
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