“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:18).

The “Reader’s Digest” chronicles the stories of random people who shared a life-changing experience.  Holly Winter was planning a reunion trip with some of her friends. They planned to surprise a college classmate in his office. But Holly’s mom decided to visit her on the same day, disrupting Holly’s plans. Crystal Brown-Tatum was engaged and accepted a job in her fiance’s city. When things took a turn, she broke the engagement and decided not to move.

George Keith’s story is about his car, which was too new to have transmission trouble. He made an appointment at the dealer for the next morning. After waiting for an hour for a simple repair, he rushed toward the office hoping not to be late for his morning meeting. At least he had a job. Laura Gelman lost hers. Her usual morning commute would have taken her through a certain subway station, but not on this day.

All four of these people would have been in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That is the life-changing experience they share. They live to be thankful for an imposing mom, a broken engagement, new car troubles, and a lost job. It’s sobering to realize that life’s disruptions can actually be a blessing, though we may never know how. But that is one reason to practice what the Bible says, “In everything give thanks.”

Consider some of Jesus’ encounters with people. From the perspective of eternity, the one leper from the ten is thankful for the disease because he experienced Jesus’ saving power. The man blind from birth is thankful because the works of God was displayed in him. Lazarus is thankful that he endured death because many witnessed and believe in the Resurrection and the Life. And there we are at the foot of the cross, witnesses to the horror and injustice of Jesus’s death, with hands raised in gratitude because it means “that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

“The giving of thanks to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ,” writes Billy Graham. “We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others.” For the believer, life’s disruptions cannot change the ultimate truth that we are meant for another place, which Jesus went to prepare for us.  And we know the Way. That thought chases away the spirit of ingratitude.

You have much to be thankful for, including eternal life by faith in Christ. Knowing this world is not all of reality is the eternal perspective that makes giving thanks in everything our distinct privilege.