"In all circumstances give thanks.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Recently, several close family and friends have either fallen ill or lost loved ones. Three are battling cancer. One tragically lost his father in a car accident. One cannot even get an accurate diagnosis after months of testing. I cannot even begin to imagine the suffering, pain, and challenges which come along with such difficult situations.
Yet today we hear, “In all circumstances give thanks.”
Give thanks? How can we give thanks in hard times?
When we are faced with a tough situation – illness, death, broken relationship, etc. – we are offered a choice. We can shrink in fear, despair, and hopelessness, or we can respond with grace, patience, and in some strange way – thankfulness.
I don’t think we necessarily thank God for our difficulties, but we thank God for the blessings we have despite the difficulties. We thank God for being present in those that support us and love us. We thank God for the grace and strength He provides for us to take on any given challenge.
My wife has a mantra which we often use to remind our daughter (and on occasion, ourselves!): “Grateful, not greedy.” Everything in my life, and the fact that I’m alive right now, are gifts from God. For that, I am to be thankful in all circumstances. It will certainly be harder in certain situations than others, but for all of it, we must remain grateful.
Let us pray,
Good and gracious God, creator of all things, thank you for the many blessings and gifts in my life. No matter the circumstance, cultivate within me the virtues of gratitude, grace, and humility. Instill in me a grateful and joyful heart, and when times are most difficult, allow me to see the many blessings surrounding and supporting me.
Each Sunday during Advent we’ll also take a moment to highlight the actual Scriptural sites where these passages during Advent take place.
This week’s Gospel reading takes place Bethany, again at the Jordan River (not to be confused with the Bethany near Jerusalem – a small village in the West Bank on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives). As we noted last week, many pilgrims visit the Jordan River to remember the baptism of Jesus, the stories of John the Baptist, and to renew their baptismal promises.
Although the exact location of Jesus’ Baptism is unknown, most likely it occurred somewhere along the Jordan River near Jericho in the desert.
This reflection was written by John Paul Lichon.
John Paul is the Founder of Verso Ministries. He lives in South Bend, Indiana, with his wife, daughter, and the newest member of the family due in March.
First Image used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photo by Jan Smith