I, with 100% accuracy, know God’s will for you today.
Without a doubt.
Isn’t that a relief?
The Bible tells me with certainty what his will is for you. It’s the same thing he wills for me.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (emphasis mine).
Maybe that’s not such a relief. It hasn’t always been a relief for me, anyway.
Sometimes taking the time to truly give thanks reveals that my “seeking God’s will” is really grumbling in my heart disguised as a question of his will for me.
This became very real to me a few years ago in a practical way. Our house is more than a little tight. Eight people in 2,200 square feet was getting a bit crowded. I constantly looked for ways to make our space more efficient so the people who live here had room to move. So our boys got a “pirate room” carved out of space in the attic above their bedroom (yes, we cut a hole in their ceiling and everything!). And my girls got a bunk bed that looks like a cottage under a tree, and a reading nook tucked away in the corner of their room under a window. We semi-converted our garage into a playroom for the kids. I even considered making a mini-bedroom under our staircase so our oldest child could have “his own room,” but it felt a little too Harry Potter… so we didn’t do it.
So, in the midst of struggling to add space to a really tight home, our across-the-street-neighbors (with two kids at home) added an 1,600 square foot addition to their 2,000 square foot house so they’d have “room to breathe.”
Every time I looked out my kitchen window, I saw the construction and the expansion of their home. Plus the new detached two-car garage with heated workshop. It took months to complete an addition like theirs. And every time I looked out the window or left home, there it was.
Space I didn’t have.
Space I wanted.
Space I began to covet.
Space I began to grumble about not having.
And all of a sudden I realized everyone around me had more space. My friends had kids with their own rooms – some kids we know had TWO rooms each. We knew couples living alone with more square feet than our EIGHT people shared. All of a sudden the community my kids loved seemed small in comparison to families with only one or two kids per room. My five boys sharing one small bedroom seemed unjust. My two girls sharing a room taken from half of a bathroom and ten feet of living space seemed unfair.
I would like to say, I quickly recognized my complaining and covetousness and repented, but I didn’t. I became a little bit bitter. I began to wonder if this was really God’s will for us. I began to question a lot of things that had nothing to do with quadruple level bunk beds… I wasn’t sure I could know God’s will, or at least I couldn’t distinguish it from the desire that held my heart.
Until God drew my attention to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
It took a while, but I began to be thankful. See, finding the right path was easy, it was choosing to take it that proved hard.
I began to be thankful for the ways God gifted me to creatively make space in our small house. I began to be thankful that our kids enjoy each other enough to survive sharing a room. I began to be thankful that we had a smaller space to clean, that we had less laundry to wash, and a HUGE kitchen island where our whole family could gather. At some point, I stopped noticing the addition across the street.
It didn’t go away.
We don’t have any more room.
We added another child.
But I learned to be thankful in this circumstance.
And I am learning a contentment with God’s will by learning to walk in his will: “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.”
As we move toward our official observance of Thanksgiving, I think it’s a good time to remember that giving thanks was never meant to be an annual thing; it was meant to be a constant thing. And it’s God’s will for us to do so.
As we approach this season of Thanksgiving, maybe it’s a good time to commit to a habit of thanksgiving.