In a discussion in a Catholic blog, I confronted a “mystical atheist” about the meaning of verse 18 of Chapter 5 of Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians.
Always thank God for anything or fact that happens to us, because this is His will for each of us, for me it implies that we must face all the trials of life that touch us because everything is in God’s will for each of us. Am I wrong?
A dear greeting.
1. the verse to which you refer is the following: “in all things give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.
What constitutes difficulty is that” in all things”.
Because we understand from ourselves that when we obtain some benefit we must give thanks.
But why give thanks when we are struck by evil and misfortune?
2. There is, however, one motivation that leaves us hopeful even when we are struck by misfortune, and it is that contained in this promise of God: “For the rest, we know that all things contribute to good, for those who love God, for those who have been called according to his plan” (Rom 8:28).
For those who love God and are committed to a path of sanctification, God turns everything in their favor: even tribulations, adversities, death and even fall9ng into sin.
This is what St. Thomas says in his Commentary on the two precepts of charity: “When one possesses charity, no misfortune or difficulty damages him, but it returns to his advantage: “For those who love God, all things contribute to good”. (Rm 8,28). Indeed, contrariety and difficulty seem sweet for the one who loves God, as experience shows”.
3. Therefore, one gives thanks not so much for the evil in itself, but because it is condemned to serve a greater spiritual good.
This does not mean that one should smile when faced with evil because Jesus also wept before the tomb of Lazarus.
But as one resigns oneself, one remains hopeful in the promise of the Lord.
So we give thanks for this promise, because if we remain faithful, it will certainly be fulfilled sooner or later.
4. One might wonder what the Lord brings good out of our relapses into sin for which it is necessary to thank Hi
Here too, we do not thank Him for the sin that as such always remains an evil, an offense done to God and has cost our Jesus so much.
But we are thankful for the permission of evil because, for example, with it the Lord wants to keep us in humility.
5. This was the experience of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
She was already on her deathbed and was suffering from a very high fever that made everything was nauseous to her.
At that moment a nun went to ask her for advice for a painting to be executed. A slight emotion betrayed her inner contrariness. The Prioress, Mother Agnes of Jesus, was also present.
When the evening arrived, Saint Teresa wrote to the Prioress: “My beloved Mother, just now I shed sweet tears, tears of repentance, but even more of gratitude and love.
Today, I have shown her my virtue, my treasures of patience!
And I who preach so well to others!
I am happy that you have seen my imperfections.
You did not reproach me, but I deserved it.
And in every circumstance your sweetness is more significant than any severe word. You are for me the image of divine mercy.
Returning to our cell, I wondered what Jesus thought of me. Immediately I remembered what he said one day to the adulterous woman: “Who has condemned you?” and I too, with tears in my eyes, replied to him “no one, Lord, and I feel that I can leave in peace, because not even you will condemn me”.
I confess to you: I am much happier to have been imperfect than if, with the help of grace, I had been a model of patience.
It does me so much good to see that Jesus is always so sweet, so tender with me. Truly, there is a death of gratitude and love.
She sees how tonight the vessel of divine mercy has overflowed upon her daughter” (Letter 206, to Mother Agnes, 28 May 1897).
6. As you can see, the Saints also know how to derive good from their slight falls, such as the knowledge of the Lord’s mercy which abounds in their lives and the knowledge of how small, indeed miserable, they are from themselves.
In the hope that you too will be able to draw out of everything a greater good, I remember you to the Lord and bless you.