There are times, as the holiday season comes upon us, that I take the time to focus on a certain thought. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it would seem only reasonable to draw our attention to a topic of great importance for both new and old Christians alike; that is, thankfulness. Someone once said, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Within this quote is the challenge to being thankful.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
This verse has troubled me at times, how about you? How do I work through the idea of giving thanks in everything? I believe it involves a willingness to see God at work in that “everything.” The apostle Paul writes, “And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Our faith draws our attention to God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of trials. Listen to what Paul said back in Romans 5:3-4, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” A heart that is unable to see God in everything cannot give thanks in everything.
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. . . . giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:17, 20
It’s one thing to find the call to be thankful in everything once, but twice? What does thankfulness look like in reality? I thought of Jesus as I considered this question. During the last supper we find Jesus giving thanks concerning the cup saying, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” (Mark 14:24) He would do the same concerning the bread which represented His body (Luke 22:19). Jesus gave thanks for what He would soon encounter, His brutal, agonizing death. Shortly after this, we would find Jesus praying in anguish about this very event (Luke 22:44). He reveals to us that when confronted with tribulation, even when we know God is in control, we will hurt. Such anguish does not mean thankfulness is absent; but rather, our need for Him to guide us through. By faith we can know God works together for the good of all, just as He did with His Son and our Savior Jesus. Thank you Lord.