IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS
Thanksgiving is the time of the year when we are supposed to give thanks for all of the things we have. This can be easier or harder depending on our circumstances. For some of us, everything is going great and working out as we want it to. We feel in step with God and life in general, so giving thanks is easy. Certainly, this gives reason to praise God; even as we realize that those situations are always temporary, we can be thankful when we experience them.
For some of us, however, “everything is going great right now and working out like we want it to” isn’t reflective of where we are. For some of us, circumstances are difficult right now. A stressful job or financial situation might be keeping you up at night. Hard marriages or dysfunctional families might keep you from having the support and security we all need in this world. Loss, suffering, or sickness might have you grieving or despairing. As Jesus-followers, we know deep down there are blessings in our lives somewhere but when we are weighed down by our burdens, those blessings can be hard to see.
Yet, Thanksgiving comes and reminds us that we are supposed to give thanks to God. We’re supposed to be grateful. So how can we be grateful or thankful even when our circumstances aren’t what we want them to be? Let us turn to our Father and remember who we are giving thanks to, even more than what we are giving thanks for.
Have you ever wondered who people offer thanks to if they don’t believe in God? Millions of people next week will give thanks for their food, their jobs, their families, their country, and the freedoms they enjoy, but they will never acknowledge who ultimately provided all of those things for them. Do people thank fate? Do they thank the universe? Do they thank themselves? No doubt many of those thanksgivings are sincere and heartfelt, but no doubt many of them aren’t directed at the one who gives us every good and perfect thing in our lives, our Father of Lights who never changes in his unwavering love and grace towards us.
The Scriptures say a lot about thanksgiving. It commands all Jesus-followers to give thanks in all circumstances to God: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18). Giving thanks in everything is God’s will for us in Christ, and the ability to do that comes as the Spirit fills us, directing our attention to God first and foremost, above everything else (Eph 5:20).
As Jesus-followers, we are the ones who don’t just give thanks for things. We don’t just acknowledge a generic sense of gratitude but recognize and know the one to whom we owe all things, and then give our thanks. In good and bad, our Father is there. He is at work, and he holds us in his hand. Let’s remember him above all this week.