Here we are, just around the corner from another Thanksgiving holiday feast. Families getting together for food and football and food and togetherness and more food and maybe some table games …and did I mention food? Well, does dessert count as food? Loosen that belt, and maybe even, think about some things that you’re thankful for. I realize for many that kind of question tends to put us on the spot. Especially when we decide to go around the table and make everyone recite something for which they’re thankful. Even as Christians we sometimes struggle with being thankful. We tend to think we need to wait for something specific to occur, a ‘wish to come true’ (but we don’t call it that, right?) before we’re officially “thankful”.
I’ve caught myself squirming a bit at times when I’ve come across Ephesians 5:20, …always giving thanks to God the Father for everything…, or 1 Thessalonians 5:18, …give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. And then it’s like every other verse in the New Testament is like …do this…and give thanks. …do that…and give thanks. And I’d be like, ‘I’m thankful that Jesus saved me, but what else is it God wants me to be thankful for?’ ‘What exactly is the “everything” Paul’s talking about?’
But as time went on I began to realize that it was the old me, the me that only saw things inwardly, as they pertained to me; ‘what’s been done for me lately’, that was having such a difficult time recognizing all the thanksgiving God deserved. God deserves our gratitude all the time, in all circumstances, first and foremost for the mercy and grace that He has shown to us in sending His Son Jesus Christ to earth to shed His blood to pay for our sins; i.e. our redemption, eternal life with Him, bought and paid for. For that, I’m thankful every second of my life. But I’m thankful that my Heavenly Father is mighty and above all others. He is sovereign. As I read God’s word and learn about His attributes and virtues, He is perfect in all ways and He is making me more like Him every minute of every day.
Does my life continue to have hardships and difficulties even though I’m a Christian and follow Him daily? Yes, but I no longer encounter those difficulties alone with only my own strength and abilities to get me through. The Lord is with me every step of the way, in sunshine or storm, in good times and in tragedy. And I always know that no matter what occurs in my life, it’s only temporal. What’s in my heart is eternal and true. It’s like the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness can change in the blink of an eye. Joy never changes.
When we realize the goodness and faithfulness of God, it’s no longer difficult to praise Him always, in every circumstance, all the time. Because it stops being all about you and what’s been done for you and your wish list lately. And then, you’ll start noticing just how much He truly has been doing for you that you never thought to ask Him for.
This Thanksgiving, and every single day, let’s give thanks to the Lord in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. He has blessed us all so very much. He is great and greatly to be praised!