Difference Between In and For
The difference between giving thanks in and giving thanks for is worth pondering.
Recently while discussing this topic with some friends, the question arose on how a person could give thanks for horrific things that had happened to them. It seems totally absurd to give thanks for trauma and abuse.
We rehearsed the verses from I Thessalonians 5:18 and Ephesians 5:20 where we are instructed to give thanks in all circumstances as well as giving thanks always for all things. How do we make sense of giving thanks for all things?
I want to compare the concept of giving thanks in the circumstance compared to giving thanks for the circumstance.
Begin with Giving Thanks IN
“Giving thanks in” is giving thanks for the good things all around your dark reality, points of light in the middle of the storm, though it feels so uncomfortable to do so. Perhaps you can only focus on Scripture’s promise that God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b). Maybe you can think thanks that this circumstance is helping you remember that life is a vapor and soon it will be gone. There is a purpose for you right now and in your immediate circumstance – you are to please God (2 Cor.5:9).
We trust in the sovereignty of our God. He has promised to not test us above what we are able. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. We cry out to our Creator God to hold us and comfort us in our distress. He knows all we have gone through and are going through. It’s hard to trust Him though when my heart is so crushed, but we must. And we must begin to think thanks.
Rise to Giving Thanks FOR
“Giving thanks for” is actually thanking God for the dark thing itself, because by it God achieved a greater good. As time passes and you get a better view of how God is shaping things, you often recognize the great void and terrible loss of gospel opportunity there would have been without the trial. You would have been happier and busy somewhere else, and God’s profound work would have been undone. That’s when you learn to embrace the trial itself.
But that is deep blue hero stuff. It took a long journey for Joni Eareckson Tada to come to the place where she gave thanks for her horrific accident that changed her life completely. Joni became a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident and by it has had the chance to minister to hundreds of thousands around the world. The friend that helped her through the early days of that trial, Steve Estes, said:
“God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.”
“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of ages.” Charles Spurgeon