in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18
In another place Paul writes, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Is it really possible to give thanks always for all things? Can we truly give thanks “in everything?”
This last Sunday I was teaching at my home church through 2 Timothy, and while I was teaching something stuck out to me that wasn’t in my notes. Paul in the opening of 2 Timothy writes “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day.” Those three words — “I think God” — jumped out at me. They jumped out at me because of the context in which they were penned.
When Paul wrote “I thank God” in 2 Timothy, he was suffering, in prison, chained, and expecting immanent execution for no real crime. And yet he could write, “I thank God.” He could do that because (1) this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, and (2) because he knew in whom he had believed, and he was persuaded that He was able to keep that which he had committed to Him until the day he entered into the promise of life that he had received from Christ Jesus.