We are all familiar with the passage of scripture that instructs us to give thanks in all things. I have spent years trying to grasp the depth of this verse. My precious mentor Bettye often jokes about wanting to remove one verse from the Bible and it is I Thess. 5:18
“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I have practiced giving thanks in all types of trying situations and this faith filled thanksgiving ultimately leads to joy. Ironically, when storms arrive thanksgiving isn’t the first response. Too often our first response to an emotional storm is a vain grasping to gain control of an often untamable situation. Ironically, the more one tries to control the chaos of the storm, one ends up destroying one’s joy. How could one have joy in life’s storms? A person forfeits this joy when they refuse to apply I Thess. 5:18.
Giving thanks in every situation is not only an act of faith but also a bridge that allows one to walk boldly into surrender. This faith-filled surrender allows the one giving thanks to experience joy in a storm. Such joy flows from the reality of the emptying of our will. This is the secret of joy’s flame, humble surrender. Jesus experienced this joy going to the cross. The joy set before Jesus (Heb. 12:2) allowed Him to surrender to the cross; emptied of His will and surrendering to the Father’s will. Jesus walked out of the storm of Gethsemane with joy set before Him because of the joyful, “not my will but Thine be done!”
As I have read and re-read the preceding paragraph, I have decided that we need to edit the way we end our prayers. Instead of tacking on the common phrase: “in Jesus” name, I think a more perfect ending to our prayers should be: “Not my will but Thine be done.” (Matt.26:39) Such a closing to one’s prayer is a demonstration of not only my surrender but a confident thanksgiving; even in a storm.