“. . .in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, the first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 18, NASB)
My last 4 blog posts have been about thanking God in every circumstance of our lives – when things go right and when everything goes wrong. Even when life is incredibly painful. In all of these times, I believe it pleases God for us to say, “Alhamdulillah!” (Arabic) or “Thank God” (English) – from our hearts.
But. . .I want to make something very clear. From my viewpoint, thanking God when everything is going wrong is not masochism – deriving pleasure from one’s own pain. No, absolutely not.
Neither is it fatalism – the view that we have no power to influence the future. Fatalism is an attitude of resignation that all future events are inevitable. Once, again, no. I do not hold to that. Absolutely not.
While I believe God is in absolute control of human history, I believe He somehow gives us choices within that control. Those choices influence our lives and the lives of those around us. We are not robots. We have the ability to choose every day.
How God can be in control and we can simultaneously make choices is hard to comprehend but I believe it. I believe they are both true at the same time.
God also graciously invites us to say specific prayers for what we need or desire (I think you Muslim readers call this making duas). These prayers can also greatly influence our lives and the lives of those around us.
In conclusion, let us both pray and make wise choices in how we live. If things go wrong after that, let us praise and thank Him – knowing that He is good and loving and wise. That He has allowed difficult things in our lives for a good and loving and wise reason.
In this way, we can say “Alhamdulillah!” (Arabic) or “Thank God” (English) when life is painful without any hint of fatalism or masochism.
Postscript: I believe trusting in God’s sovereign rule is what also allows us to forgive others when they wrong us vs. taking revenge for the sake of our honor.
In the Bible’s account of Joseph being horribly wronged by his brothers, he is able to forgive them from his heart instead of taking revenge because he understood that God is in control and has a good purpose in allowing any evil that comes into our lives. That’s why Joseph could say to his brothers who hurt him so deeply (in the Tawrat, the book of Genesis, chapter 50, verse 20):
“. . .you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good.” (The Message)
“. . .you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (NIV)