Thanksgiving is a day set aside to thank God for the harvest and for all He has done to bless us. When we gather at Shirley’s brother’s house we always name something we are thankful for before we pray, giving thanks for the meal. Mostly, people name family and health and freedom. These deeply cherished blessings are worth giving thanks for!
But I’ve noticed something about my mind and heart. It is more difficult to give thanks when things are not going well than it is when I am feeling good. I had a head cold last week, including a mild fever for about 24 hours. My body felt achy and weak. My mind was not really focused on all that I am thankful for. I guess it’s human nature.
But Scripture gives us another possibility and another way. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Give thanks in all circumstances. Hmmm. That’s not easy to do. Perhaps the thing that makes it difficult to give thanks in all circumstances is that we are so used to focusing on circumstances. And blessings. And happiness. And health.
But some things transcend circumstances and blessings and happiness and health. Like family. The relationships of love we share in our family are deep and real and stubbornly consistent, whatever the circumstances. So in any circumstances, I can give thanks for those I love and those who love me.
And then there is grace. When I did not deserve it, Jesus died for me. When I could not make myself better, Jesus forgave me. When I resist His transformation as an experienced believer, Jesus still loves me and continues to strive with my selfishness and sin. I can always give thanks for Jesus and His grace!
And there is hope. No matter how bleak the circumstances of this life, I have the hope of a better kingdom coming in eternity. Even death has to give way to resurrection when the King of kings says, “Come forth!” Whatever the hardships of life, Jesus is bigger and I have hope in Him. Maybe I can give thanks in all circumstances!
I hope you will be able to gather with your family on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. I hope the day will mean more to you than a huge feast and three football games. I hope you will take a moment to give thanks to God for the things that are most important and can never be taken away from us—whatever the circumstances of your life right now. And I hope, if you cannot be with family on Thanksgiving Day, you will take a moment in the day and give thanks to God in spite of it.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”