Sitting in a damp, dimly lit prison cell, the Apostle Paul worked steadfastly on writing the Scriptures. He knew he was waiting on a death sentence, and that his time was short. Still, he pressed on, waking up each day to put pen to paper.
And in the midst of this final trial, he obediently wrote the following words:
“Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This passage of Scripture takes my breath away. Think of what a tall order this is – to give thanks always and for all things!
The translators were not exaggerating here – this is literally what Paul wrote. The Greek word for “always,” pantote, is the same word used in John 6:34, where Jesus had miraculously fed the multitudes and they cried out, “Become our Ruler, and give us this bread every day, and at all times! The Greek pan is all-inclusive, and literally means every single thing imaginable.
Can you honestly say that you give thanks at all times, and for everything ? As I mentioned two Mondays ago, Paul was writing to mature, faithful believers. Here this is evident… newborn Christians would never be able to pull off such a task. No, only someone who has faithfully been walking with the Lord can begin to understand what it truly means to walk in this kind of thanksgiving.
But this is what we’re called to do. To be thankful always, and for all things. Does it seem unfair of God to ask this of you, based on your life’s circumstances? Just look at what Paul was facing… or Jesus. I can’t imagine having to endure the pain and suffering of the cross, but He did it willingly, all the while setting the example of One who walked in constant thanksgiving.
Imagine the joy that this type of mature gratitude would bring into your life! I read once that the only difference between a prison and a monastery is thankfulness. While a prisoner might be consumed with feeling sorry for himself upon being locked in a quiet room, a monk could be kept in that same room and be grateful for the solitude as an opportunity to hear God’s voice more clearly. For this monk, the prison becomes a place of worship.
Would you be willing to try it today? Try giving thanks always and for all things, and see if your life doesn’t begin to overflow with the beauty and wonder of true worship!