Giving thanks always for all things unto God. Ephesians 5:20
by Daniel Yahav
The period we have gone through in the last two years, has been a time of testing for all of us. Now that we can see it's end, we want to look back and thank God for His faithfulness and His grace over us even in challenging times. The time we went through was a test that examined the foundations of our house of faith. What is our house built on, and how do we cope with trials and tribulations that come our way, knowing that more trials are likely to come in the future.
We are already witnessing the war in Ukraine, and it is impossible to know how it will continue to develop, but our solution to all problems and troubles, whether it be disease, war, natural disaster or crisis of one kind or another, the solution and way to overcome depends on our relationship with the Lord.
It is written in Ephesians 5: 19-20 - " Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ".
We know that under the Roman Empire, at the time these epistles were written, there were quite a few persecutions and believers had very many challenges. The emperor was considered a god, and believers who refused to bow to him were slaughtered mercilessly. The whole society around them worshiped idols in their temples, and the believers who refused to participate in the idolatry immediately stood out and were marked as exceptional and became the target of the forces of darkness. And yet the Holy Spirit through Paul says to them: Give thanks at all times for everything. Very simple. At all times, also means when there is war, persecution, disease, pandemic, whether it is hard for me or good for me, whether I understand what is happening around me or I don’t understand what is happening, I should give thanks at all times. And our conversations should be in psalms and hymns and spiritual service and not in complaints and not in grumbling.
Maybe you're thinking now - why give thanks for everything, it's hard and it's not good for me!
We have an answer to this in first Thessalonians 5:16-18. Here's something even more challenging
" Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you".
Rejoice at all times?! Saul, what are you talking about! How should I rejoice at all times?!
But Saul not only spoke, he actually lived it. When he and Silas were thrown into the dark prison in Philippi after being beaten with whips, they sat there with their legs in a splint and sang and praised God! They were not full of complaints and anger for what had been done to them. They praised God wholeheartedly. In the letter of James 1:2-4 I it is written to us:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
God through James encourages us to even rejoice in trials, knowing that they are working deep in our hearts to make us whole and complete before God.
And the beautiful thing is, that just as they thanked and glorified God, wholeheartedly, God sent them the solution and freed them from the chains that bound them.
Persevere in prayer, indicating that our relationship is with God. Our appeal for help should be directed upwards, to God. Our confidence is neither in our governments nor in other people nor in anything in this world. Our confidence and solution to any problem or trouble that may come upon us in the future, should be in the Lord, in our relationship with him. Our hope should be turned upwards, to our loving God.
Let us thank God for everything, because it is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.
God wanted that we go through the storm that has been over us for the last two years as well. There are people and there are congregations that have fallen apart because everything that stands on the sand will fall (Matthew 7:27-24). The rock on which we want to build our house of faith is Jesus.
The sand symbolizes the people and all that this world has to offer.
As I see you sitting in front of me, I see many heads. Each head is like a grain of sand. When God told Abraham that he would have many descendants he told him that his descendants would be as many as the sand on the seashore. When God wanted to make man he took earth and created Adam. So, while building a house on the rock stands for building our house of faith on Yeshua and His word, so also building the house on sand, stands for building our lives on people and their opinions.
The sand always moves from place to place, and so does the opinions of people. Politicians are constantly monitoring the public opinion in order to see their popularity, and we know how everything in this world is so unstable. Moral standards are changing rapidly, but God never changes.
We passed a time of testing that examined how strong we stand in times of trial and difficulty. Is our house of faith standing strong? Now is a good time to examine what was our reaction during this time. It is important to understand and internalize that if God allowed this last two years of crisis in our lives, then this was God's will for us in Christ Jesus. If cracks have been revealed in the house of our faith, it is time to strengthen our spiritual house so that it can stand the next tests of war or persecution, natural disaster or becoming a homeless refugees. If our faith is founded and built on the rock, on Jesus, we can always look up to our source of salvation, and triumphantly pass every trial.
Why should we give thanks for everything?!
Because that is the good will of God for us. It is His good will, because it is written in Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" Do we really believe that?!
Do we remember these words even when we are going through a difficulty?!
In difficult situations, that is where our faith is tested.
In Philippians 4:4-5 it is written: "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice. Let your humility be known unto all men, The Lord is near" Humility, is the opposite of complaint, anger and resentment, and it is impossible for us to rejoice and truly thank God except with the Holy Spirit. Therefore we must ask for and be filled with the Holy Spirit as written in Ephesians 5:18. "Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit”.
We also read In Philippians 4:5 "…The Lord is near." The Lord is close to us when we have a personal relationship with him. When we allow the Holy Spirit to rule our lives, and that includes our actions, our speech, our thoughts, decisions - everything, then the gentleness of God will be reflected through us to those around us. We can examine and ask ourselves: hat kind of testimony do we give to the people around us? Do they feel the peace of the Lord and His joy in our lives even in times of difficulty? Are people comfortable being in our company or are we angry and resentful?
The Lord is also close to coming back and taking us. We have good hope. This life is short and as we wait for the Lord from heaven, our focus shifts from the present here and now, to what awaits us in eternity. That is why Paul writes to the Colossians 3:1-4 " If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. "
If we allow the Holy Spirit to lift up our heads towards heaven, we will find peace and joy and gratitude in our lives at all times. May God help us all to practice that attitude daily.