Two Little Words That Trip Us Up When Giving Thanks

In and for: Two little words that reshaped my prayer of thanks(giving). Discovering the power of these two-one syllable words clarified my quandary of: “How can we ‘thank’ God for losing a child, job or health?” For years I’ve struggled with people who say these things.
My quandary began to lift through a well-known Old Testament lesson. Picture with me the following. A God-fearing, up-standing man in the community had possessions so vast he was the greatest of all people in the East. And he had a large family consisting of seven sons and three daughters. But at the pinnacle of his life, tragedy strikes taking all he owns, his family and his health.
His response? He tore his robe, cried, shaved his head and fell to the ground and—worshiped. Surprised? The difference between Job’s response and those who pretend to give lip service in the middle of overwhelming anguish is how the response is directed. Job laments in Job 1: 22-26 – a, b (NKJV), “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Paul begins explaining why this response is correct by introducing our first word—in—with I Thessalonians 5:18, “. . . in everything [hardships, challenging circumstances] give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Paul tells how a Christian is to give thanks in every circumstance that God still reigns, but not to thank Him for the suffering. When Job lost everything he never said, “thank you God for taking all that I have.” Rather he blessed the name of God in spite of his personal afflictions.
Then Ephesians 5:20 is a good example on how to use our second word—for—; “ . . . giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus” Here the word for is directive towards objects—not problems.
How encouraging and uplifting it is to understand how to differentiate the use of our two little functional words. It frees us to commune honestly with our Lord and with ourselves. Job ranted and raved and tore his clothes; Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus when he died, and we can pull our hair out with grief. It’s okay. God, in His indescribable wisdom, knew our frailty with sorrow. Consequently, one of the tools He provided on how to begin to prepare for these trials comes from Colossians 3:2; “Set your mind on things above, not on things of earth.” Then we are ready to give Him thanks for the things He bestows upon us and capable to worship in spit of the hard times. Like Job, our faith will strengthen and grow, as we trust our Father who is greater than any calamity we will ever face. Praise His Name! And Happy Thanksgiving.