This I Believe

Courtney - Paola, Kansas
Entered on September 19, 2006

Thankful in all Circumstances

When I was nine years old, my family and I were on our way home from vacationing in Cincinnati, Ohio, when a large giraffe came into view. The giraffe was part of the St. Charles, Missouri, Noah’s Ark restaurant. The restaurant was inside a large Plexiglas ark surrounded by a zoo of Plexiglas animals. Our family decided to stop and tour the scene. An hour later, we piled back into the car. Before the engine was ever started, however, my dad suggested, has he did on most car rides, that we all memorize a Bible verse, and as a reward, he’d buy us ice cream. The Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV). “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Now I’m sixteen, and I still remember every word of that verse. Perhaps my ability to recall it was based on the excitement I, as a nine year old, experienced that night. Perhaps it was the fun of a family car trip. Perhaps it was something else. Whatever it was, I am very thankful for it. That verse has meant so much to me over the years. It has helped me to be just that, thankful, no matter what comes my way.

I have so much to be thankful for: family, songs, a house, food and clothes, happiness, salvation, my pets, chocolate-mint ice cream, and the list goes on. I have truly been blessed. It’s easy to be thankful when life is all “flowers and sunshine,” but life isn’t always that way. How can I be thankful when life is only “thistles and clouds”? I have to choose it. I have to decide to be thankful in “all circumstances.”

The other day my fourteen year old brother was driving our family to church in my car. He had just gone over a hill to discover that on the other side another car had just pulled into his lane. He swerved over to the adjacent road to avoid an accident. Forty mph, however, was too fast to safely make the turn. With wheels spinning, and gravel flying, we slid into the ditch. We came to a halt when my car slammed into the road sign. There was a huge dent in the fender.

For an instant I was very mad at my brother for wrecking my car. Then I realized I could have been killed, my family could have died, and the car could have been totaled. I really had a lot to be thankful for. I thanked God for the accident, I thanked him for our safety, and I thanked him for his love. Choosing to be thankful in this situation relieved the stress, and I immediately felt God’s peace envelop me. It was a wonderful feeling. It turned out that the other driver who had unintentionally caused the accident volunteered to pay for the damage on my car; I was also thankful for that.

I believe that no matter what circumstances I’m faced with, I can always be thankful; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 constantly reminds me of this. God will always work things out to the best good of everyone (Romans 8:28). So with that in mind, what isn’t there to be thankful for?