Rarely, if ever, do all family members assemble at the same Thanksgiving table completely satisfied with the circumstances of their lives. Related hearts gather together weighed down by financial pressures, dishonest employees, marriage struggles, rebellious children, death of loved ones, or a discouraging diagnosis. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for us to count our blessings, but what if we don’t feel like giving thanks? What if life seems to be falling apart?
As Christians, we automatically turn to God’s word and to each other in our search for comfort. We read things like Ephesians 5:19-20, “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” If we’re honest, we admit to rolling our eyes and thinking, “Everything? Give thanks for everything? No way!”
Then we read on and find 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Now we’re more perplexed, and we whisper, “All circumstances? Seriously?”
I believe Paul said exactly what he meant. Great victory comes through the struggling.
- What if Paul had never been blinded on the road to Damascus? Who could share the mercy of God and the grace of Jesus better than a forgiven, Christian-murdering terrorist?
- What if Paul hadn’t been stoned and left for dead in Lystra? Would those townspeople have opened their hearts as wide, and as quickly, to his courageous message of hope?
- If relationship struggles had not separated Paul and Barnabas, would the gospel have spread as quickly as it did?
- If Paul and Silas had not been imprisoned how would their prison guard ever meet and accept their prison-shaking Savior?
- What if Paul had never been shipwrecked? How long would the people of Malta have waited to hear the gospel?
Now, what about you?
Have financial pressures caused you to re-evaluate your priorities and reminded you that all good things come from God?
Give thanks for the Lord is good.
Have dishonest business dealings caused you to be more diligent in establishing godly principles in the workplace?
Give thanks for God’s ways are perfect.
What about your marriage? Has God opened your eyes to the grace you’ve been given so you can show that same forgiveness to your spouse?
Give thanks for His mercies are new every morning.
Have you learned to lovingly discipline your children even if it hurts you more than them?
Give thanks for God cares for you.
Are you convinced, like Paul, that to live is Christ and to die is gain?
Give thanks for Christ died for you.
And, are you willing to accept a discouraging diagnosis as a platform to share the overwhelming love, comfort, and peace that comes from realizing that Jesus is enough?
Give thanks to the One who gives us immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine!
Still don’t feel like giving thanks? Do it anyway, and you will! Trust me!
“If God is for us, who can be against us? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!” (Romans 8)
“Give thanks to the Lord! His love endures forever!” (Psalm 118)