My dad once told me a story about a father with two sons. The dad loved the one, and spoiled him, but virtually ignored the other. One Christmas, the father spent what little money they had getting gifts for the favored child, and on the way home, as he had got nothing for the other, he found some horse droppings and filled a sack with them. Christmas morning came, and the spoiled child tore through all of his gifts, unhappily asking "Is this all I got?" while the son who had got the sack of horse manure tearfully looked up at his father. Pained with guilt, the father heard the second son joyfully exclaim "I almost got a horse!" Gratitude is something that determines the way we live. It is a thankful heart that learns, as Paul says in Philippians 4, to be content in all situations. It is not, necessarily, being grateful for the bad, but rejoicing that God is sovereign in any and all circumstances. A Grateful heart is at peace, because one who is grateful knows that God, who did not have to, sent His son to die for us that we may no longer be under the bondage of sin, or the fate of death. It is a life covered in grace, and it is this life that is the duty of every Christian to cultivate. Job not going how you want? Be grateful! School not how you expected? Have joy! God is using all circumstances to work together for your good, if you love Him! Give thanks, even if your situation is not ideal, because God is still good, even when we're not!
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 English Standard Version (ESV)
Final Instructions and Benediction
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.