"Always be joyful....No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18). How could Paul make such a sweeping statement?
Paul had caught hold of a secret and he longed for others to glimpse it also: For those trusting in Christ "everything serves [God's] plan" (Psalm 119:91 NLT). Paul had grasped that truth with so much joy that he was eager for them to see it too.
Paul wasn't saying, "All that comes is good." But those of us who trust in Jesus know He allows only what He can use for our good. Using His marvelous unlimited resources, God will take those shameful and disappointing things and turn them into a cause for praise. Paul was so confident of this truth that he couldn't stop saying, "Be joyful! Give thanks!" To Paul, praise was more than a discipline. It was the most obvious response to all things when we live in the shelter of God's protective love.
This truth gripped Paul: What Satan intends for evil, God is going to turn into good. Nothing stymies God's good plans for us who trust Him. All things serve Him--even the schemes of Satan and the sins of others--because those who belong to Christ He "surrounds with [His] favor as with a shield" (Psalm 5:12).
From Paul's viewpoint, then, giving thanks is our expression of love and faith and is a true surrender to the plans of our Father. Praise may begin as a discipline for us, but the more we exercise this discipline, the more we will understand praise and thankfulness to be our recognition of a glorious truth: God can cause everything to work together for our good!
I express my faith in Your kindness, Father, by giving thanks for all You allow.
"All things serve you" (Psalm 119:91).