In his pastoral letters Paul is always quick with his words of thanks. For example, he ends the first letter to Thessalonica with this:
“Be at peace among yourselves. . .admonish
The idle, encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak, be patient with them all,. . .
rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
for you.” 2 Thes.5, 13-18.
To “give thanks in all circumstances”, according to this letter, “Is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
And that statement gives me pause, because it seems so very difficult. I just read about Gordie Howe, the longtime great hockey player who retired at age 52. He was visiting his daughter here in Texas when he was felled by a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side with impaired speech. How does that family “give thanks in all circumstances”?
Or what so often happens. You go to a doctor, he runs some tests and asks you to come back when he gets the results, and often the result dismays us. It’s not really what one might want to hear.
But then we think a bit more and remember that our God says to us, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”, and it begins to start to make some sense. For did not God also say, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16,33.
And remember this wonderful word also from St. Paul, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will provide a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10, 13.)
Some ruminations on a phrase that seems to make little sense, until we look a bit more closely to see how the Lord works in our lives, always to our good.