Joni encourages us to give thanks for everything, as it is a Biblical command and a key to Christian growth.
Sometimes certain Bible verses can raise big and honest questions.
Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and I’m thinking of Ephesians chapter 5:19-20. It seems benign enough to you when you read this scripture for face value, ‘cause it simply says, "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." So… why should this raise questions – what’s the big deal? Well, the Bible is telling us to always give thanks to God for everything. Like… EVERYTHING. Not just the good stuff, but the really bad stuff in your life; things out of your control – undeserved abuse from a parent or a drunk driver crushing the spine of your teenager. Yikes! Are we to be always giving thanks to God for everything in the name of Jesus.
Now, I have wrestled with this Scripture. It's not quite like I Thessalonians 5:18 where we are told to, "In everything give thanks." Rather, Ephesians 5 says "… Always giving thanks to God the Father FOR everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." How can God expect us to “do” that? Well, I have thought long and hard on this verse, and I think it’s interesting what’s on either side of the command: giving thanks to God the Father is at the front end… And in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ closes it out. The Holy Spirit made certain to 'bookend' the idea of giving thanks for everything with God the Father and God, the Son. We may not feel thankful for the terrible things that happen to us (and God is not asking us to feel thankful); but we are commanded to give thanks, always with the Father and the Son as our focus, always seeking His point of view, always looking at things from His heavenly perspective. For when we give thanks for everything in the name of Jesus, it really is asking us to look at the awful stuff from Jesus’ vantage point.
And we can do that because EVERYTHING friend, EVERYTHING falls within the overarching decrees of God’s sovereignty. Isaiah 45:7 assures us, "I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and I create disaster; I, the Lord, do these things." And of course in Ephesians 1:11 He says, "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." There you have it! Everything that touches our life comes from His hand (even if it is occasionally His left hand).
And God asks us to have the point of view of Christ – He sees how it will all fit together one day. In heaven, there will be no bruises on your daughter, free from the shackles of an abusive marriage. You will be awestruck to see how her response to it all forced others you hardly even knew to make tough decisions about God and suffering. You will see what lessons the angels and demons learned about God from observing him at work in your mother, languishing in that nursing home. You will stand amazed at how your perseverance through pain sent repercussions rumbling through the lives of people you never realized were watching.
Ephesians 5:20, giving thanks for everything in the name of Jesus, well, it's one of those "deep calls to deep" commands. In closing, I do thank God for my paralysis. I couldn't have done that years ago. And, hey, I would really like to hear from you on this important subject. I say important because I believe it’s one of those milestones in your life with Christ that is a key to Christian growth. So I’d love to hear your comments – just visit my radio page at joniandfriends.org. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
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