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Should Christians ‘Give Thanks’ For Cancer, Rape, and Death?

Spoiler alert, Christians are called to give thanks for evil acts, death, and disease. That’s a distorted view of Ephesians 5:20 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Here’s what you need to know.

There’s a twisted idea that God calls for Christians to ‘give thanks’ for vile acts of humans, death, and disease. But is it scriptural? The most commonly cited verses to make this case are:

[Ephesians 5:20] always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;

[1 Thessalonians 5:18] in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

It seems some people look at the word ‘everything’ and leave no room for context.

If you read 1 Thessalonians 5:18, and then rewind just one verse, we see that we should ‘pray without ceasing’. But is God literally telling us we are not permitted to stop praying for a moment, or is the context simply to make a habit of talking to your heavenly father?

Imagine the guilt that would impose on a Christian who stopped praying long enough to play with their kids, love on their husband, or go to work.

It’s like when we tell our kids they need to eat everything on their plates. We said everything. Are we telling them they need to eat their fork too? Of course not. Context needs to be considered.

God is not the author of death. He is the author of life. He is not looking for you to thank him when someone you love dies in a car accident or some horrible disease.

Thanking God for rape would be to assume God sent the rapist. God doesn’t do that.

Thanking God for cancer would be to suggest that God is hurling disease at us. God doesn’t do that.

Thanking when someone you love is murdered would be to suggest God is a puppet master controlling the murderer’s evil acts. God doesn’t do that.

So, when God asks us to give thanks for everything, He’s talking about thanking Him for the things that He Himself has done for us. God is not needy, or desperate for attention. God is grieved when we are hurt in any way, and He has no joy in our pain and suffering.

Take Away: Relax. God is good, and there’s a reason thanking God for evil doesn’t feel right. Because that’s not a message from God. It’s a distorted view of loving, kind, and just God.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.

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