Part of worship is simply saying “thank you” to God. The great song writer, David, includes thanksgiving in many of his songs. Psalm 138 begins, “I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart, before the gods I sing your praise.” I think that the gods (little “g”) refers to great people who are revered or worshipped by others inappropriately. David says that he will not be intimidated by any so called “gods” and even as they watch he will sing his songs of thanks to the one true God.

Saying “thank you to God” for my life is fairly easy most of the time. I have good health, I have a great woman who loves me, two great sons and three great grandsons to share my life with, I have the privilege of doing what I want most for a living, and I have a world filled with wonder and beauty to enjoy. When I see those who suffer in various ways, I sometimes feel guilty. I know those who have been diagnosed with cancer, those suffering through a painful divorce, those who have lost jobs, those who have lost loved ones, and those who have overwhelming handicaps to face every day. I’ve had loss. But my losses are just part of life. My father died at 64. I miss him. My sister died at 48, I miss her. My mother died at 72, I miss her. But mostly, my losses are simply a part of life that everyone will experience sooner or later. But others suffer above and beyond what is normal in life. Some people intimately know the experiences of Job.

Paul was a man who suffered much. If you read an ancient description of Paul you get the image of a man who doesn’t have a lot to be thankful for. It says, “he was a man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were projecting, and he had large eyes and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long…” When you consider Paul’s life; beaten with 39 lashes 3 times, stoned and left for dead, perjured against, shipwrecked, etc…, you don’t really see a man who should have a lot to be thankful for. But the ancient description of Paul goes on to say, “… and he was full of grace and mercy; at one time he seemed like a man, and at another time his face seemed to shine like an angel.” He wrote to us in 2 Corinthians about God’s challenge to let our light “shine out of the darkness, because God’s light has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:6). It’s clear that the “darkness” Paul is talking about is the suffering we endure in life. He goes on in the same passage to say in verse 8, We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” To praise God by thanking Him in all our suffering and pain is truly a worship that is “acceptable and well pleasing to God.”

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18