The Bible commands us to constantly be praising God for all our blessings. But there is also a strange command in the Bible that has caused a lot of people to wonder.
Paul commands believers in 2 Thessalonians 5:18: ‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’. Give thanks for everything? Give thanks for poverty, pain, separation and loss? It takes a lot of grace and faith to praise the Lord for trials, but many have found that it is not only profitable but richly rewarding.
A story from the Second World War can, perhaps illustrate this. Most of us know about the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her courageous witness for Christ during the time of Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. Her faith, strength and faithful witness have been a testimony to many.
She tells about how she and her sister Betsie were once thrown into a filthy barracks by the Germans. One of the worst features of this concentration camp was the fleas. They were crawling everywhere, making life miserable for the inmates.
Being a Christian, and knowing how the Bible tells us to give thanks for everything, Betsie asked her sister to join her in thanking God for the fleas. Recoiling in horror, Corrie said she would not. She could not see how they could thank God for these pests. But she reluctantly joined Betsie in thanking God for the fleas, though it was hard.
These women wanted to hold Bible studies with the inmates in the concentration camp, but they were afraid that the soldiers would discover them and stop their studies. But to their amazement the officers were seldom around and they were able to study the Bible freely.
They could not understand why the soldiers seldom came around. Eventually they found out. It was because of the fleas! The soldiers stayed out of the barracks and did not bother the inmates, because they too detested these pests.
Are you suffering some miserable situation, which seems to have no redeeming value? Perhaps you might just try taking a step of faith and praising God for your difficulty. If you are God’s child there is something in this situation that God has ordained for your good. Though you might not understand it now, you probably will some day.
John F. Thornbury served for many years as a pastor in Baptist churches in Pennsylvania and Kentucky