Speaking of giving thanks... I shared the following with the photography club because our (obvious) one-word theme this month is "thankful."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
New International Version (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Give thanks in ALL circumstances... not just the pleasant ones. There are many things I could say here, but I think the best example here is an excerpt from Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place, where Corrie described her experience and spiritual journey through the Nazi Concentration Camps.
“Fleas!” I cried. “Betsie, the place is swarming with them!…How can we live in such a place!”
“Show us. Show us how.” It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“Corrie!” she said excitedly. “He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”
I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch.” It was in First Thessalonians,” I said…In the feeble light I turned the pages. “Here it is: ‘Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’” It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.
“Go on,” said Betsie. “That wasn’t all.”
“Oh yes: ‘…to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus–”
“That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“Such as?” I said.
“Such as being assigned here together.”
I bit my lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”
“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”
I looked down at the Bible. “Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women, here in this room, who will meet you in these pages.”…
“Thank You,” Betsie went on serenely, “for the fleas and for–”
The fleas! This was too much. “Betsie there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”
“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’” she quoted. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”
And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.
During their stay, they were somehow allowed to lead Bible studies/worship services nightly with the other women who shared the living space. The guards never interrupted, and never came to inspect the barracks. Though they didn't understand why, they were blessed by the small freedom. Corrie went on to write:
“You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,” I told her.
“You know we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,” she said. “Well–I’ve found out.”
That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.
“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”
Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: “Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’”
My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.
[The Hiding Place, pp. 197-199, 209]
SO... your challenge is to be thankful for the fleas. What are YOUR fleas?