The greatest rejection of Jesus’ life opened the door for us to receive His greatest gift, salvation. Over the last couple of weeks I have been struck by the events of the night of Jesus’ arrest. Luke 22 says that as Jesus and the apostles shared the passover meal together that Jesus took the cup, raised it up and gave thanks for it and then, as He passed it to His disciples said, “This is the cup of the new covenant which is in My blood.” Then, just a few hours later, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemanee, Jesus prayed “Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” I believe that Jesus teaches us an important lesson about thankfulness, it is possible to be thankful with the difficult and even undesired steps of the path that God has put us on.

I believe that Jesus’ prayer of thanks over the cup that He was about to drink was genuine. Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross and despised it’s shame because of the “joy that was set before Him.” He was well aware of the cost of our salvation and He was joyful for the opportunity to usher in grace to all those that would believe, but that thankfulness did not make the cross, the betrayal, the trial and the wrath of God easy or enjoyable to bear.

In I Thessalonians 5, Paul wrote, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Paul was not saying that we should be thankful for everything, but that in every situation we must be thankful. The difference sounds subtle when read, but is quite broad when acted out. To be thankful in everything means to know the truth of who God is and who He has created and called you to be. To be thankful in all things means to always be mindful of God’s love, His grace, His mercy, His salvation and His perfect plan for our lives. To be thankful for everything would mean that we somehow tried to enjoy every situation that life brought. That is not the reality of life and God has no desire that we pretend that it is true. Jesus taught us as He prayed fervently in Gethsemane that there are moments in life that are very difficult, that if we could have them removed we would, but He also teaches us that the outcome must matter more to us than the present difficulty. Jesus’ prayer from Mark 14, that I quoted earlier shows Jesus’ heart and mindset fully. If there is any way to not have to bear the cross, to not have to bear the world’s sin and God’s wrath then Jesus is glad to not go through it. But if this is the way to bring salvation, if this is the way to rend the veil and open up the presence of God, if this is the way to bring reconciliation to man then Jesus is more than willing to endure. The outcome of our salvation was greater to Him than the difficulty of the cup that He was about to endure.

We are going to go through difficulty. Jesus told the disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Even the path of God, the plans that He has for you will involve overcoming difficulty, enduring trials and being attacked by the enemy. But in all of this, be encouraged, be filled with faith, be thankful, because Jesus has overcome your difficulty, He has carried your grief, He has borne your sorrows. The Good Shepherd will lead to still waters and green pastures, be thankful that He will never leave and that He is always good. Trust Him to be your peace and your provision and let Him lead you through valleys, amidst enemies and down paths that seem to difficult to pass.

Give thanks in all things today because Jesus willingly, joyfully and thankfully took the cup of our sin and sorrow. Give thanks today that you are a child of God. Give thanks today because wewere the joy that Jesus clung to as He went to the cross. No matter what your situation is right now, give thanks, not because it will get better if you do, but because God’s plan for you all along has been for you to give thanks and to trust His love to carry you through.