Focal passage: 2 Chronicles 20:10-12, 14-17, 20-22, 29-30
We can give thanks in every situation. As a high school math teacher, I have administered thousands of final exams. Every semester, nervous students work diligently to answer each question and then turn in their tests with a combination of despair and relief plastered on their faces. Very rarely do any of these teenagers speak to me.
In fact, there is only one exam day conversation I can remember. Almost 10 years ago, a young lady named Hannah turned in her geometry exam and proclaimed, “Thank you, Miss Anthony.”
I almost fell out of my chair. Teenagers are thankful for candy and extra credit. They are not thankful for final exams. I remember this comment when I read 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus.” This means we must practice thankfulness when our circumstances are bleak, not just when everything is well.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat was struggling with much more than a math test. The people of Judah were about to be attacked, and he was afraid his people would suffer great harm. Jehoshaphat turned his gaze toward God. He commanded the Levites to lead the people in thanking God. They sang, “Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21). God works through the thankfulness of His people. He gave Judah victory in battle and then used the story to make His name great among other kingdoms. What’s more, because Judah trusted God, the people entered a season of rest.
Hannah thanked me even though her test was difficult because she knew I longed for her success. Jehoshaphat thanked God even though destruction was imminent because He knew God cared for His people. When we thank God in every situation, we are proclaiming that we wholeheartedly trust Him. And when we choose thankfulness, God demonstrates His faithfulness in our lives.