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The importance of the word ‘in’

Sometimes we completely underestimate the importance of some of the smallest words in the English vocabulary. Today, I want to talk about the simple two-letter word ‘in’ and more specifically how it is used when the Apostle Paul tells us:

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

Notice in this verse, that Paul did not say to be thankful ‘for’ all things but rather to be thankful ‘in’ all things.

The Greek word for ‘in’ is the equally short word ‘èv’ and means simply to be inside, into, or in and when used in the sense of time “during.”

Simply, the Apostle Paul was encouraging believers that no matter what circumstance we are in, we need to be giving thanks, literally finding things to be thankful for. In a sense we are offering up sacrifices of thanksgiving, because in some situations it is the last thing we want to do, and being thankful requires a sacrifice of our mind, will and emotions.

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert Emmons, University of California and Dr. Michael McCullough, University of Miami have been studying the importance of thankfulness for years.

In one particular study that ran for 10 weeks, the two researchers asked people to simply write down a few sentences each week.

The first group was asked to write down all the things they had to be thankful for, no matter how bad the previous week had gone.

The second group was asked to write down the things that irritated them the previous week. That would be so easy to do.

The third group was simply asked to write down the things that most impacted them the previous week. It could be good or bad.

At the end of this ten-week period, the researchers discovered that the group who purposefully found things to be thankful for each week, were happier and more optimistic than the two groups that didn’t. In addition, the thankful group had also visited doctors less often than the people in the other two groups. So not only were they doing better mentally, but physically as well.

While we are ‘in’ times that try men’s souls, we need to search out those things that we can be thankful for. Instead of focussing on the lockdowns, politics and COVID, arm yourselves with thankfulness.

We need to quit focussing on what we don’t have and focus on what we do have and be thankful.

The Apostle Paul added in Philippians 4:11-13, that he had learned to be content is all circumstances. Whether he had plenty or had nothing, he was content. However, it was something he had to ‘learn.’ In other words, he had to train or discipline himself, to be thankful ‘in’ all circumstances.

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