Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. But it is quickly becoming the lost holiday. Halloween costumes and decorations line the shelves at the end of September and Christmas items follow right behind.
Rarely will you see Thanksgiving mentioned except in the phrase "after-Thanksgiving sale" for Christmas. It is slowly losing its significance. Biblically, we don't need a certain day to remind us to be thankful...or do we? We should display an attitude of gratitude daily as part of our Christ-like character.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to, "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." People search for God's will for their lives and here it plainly tells us being thankful is part of God's design and purpose. It almost seems impossible to do. Can you really be thankful in all circumstances?
The Bible is full of seemingly impossible statements God wants us to abide by. "Love your enemies," "Be anxious for nothing," "Do everything without murmuring and complaining," and "Be holy" are just a few examples. But all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27).
So how do you be thankful in all situations? Does it really mean no exceptions and no excuses – just be thankful period? Obviously one should not be thankful when they sin except that Jesus forgives and cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:9). It is hard to be thankful when tragedy strikes except to think, "All things work together for the good of those who love Him (Jesus) and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). A true believer will be thankful while an unbeliever "does not honor God nor give thanks" (Romans 1:21).
Some people don't thank God because they just think when good things happen it's simply luck at work or when bad things happen it is fate or destiny. They just take life as it comes and if anything good really happens it's because they made it happen so they thank themselves for their hard work and effort.
If you really know Christ and believe He works all things together for our good then you'll be thankful in all situations. My mom and dad always taught me to be thankful and express it verbally by saying "thank you" when someone did something nice for me. They also taught me to repay kindness with kindness as a way of saying thanks. A heart and mind that runs to thankfulness after receiving kindness can be taught but it's just not natural to be thankful in all things, especially when it's bad – that supernatural.
2 Corinthians 4:15 says, "For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God." God's grace causes us to be thankful for all things.
Typically, people make a list of what they are thankful for, even doing "30 days of Thanksgiving." Rarely will those lists include trouble, trials, or tragedy.
And sometimes it is hard to come up with something every day. Not that those are bad (because they teach us to be thankful), but why not just exercise thankfulness in all things every moment of the day? That will truly teach us thankfulness.
Colossians chapter 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful." God's peace will make you thankful. Verse 17 says, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks in everything." Lord, teach us to be thankful in all things.
Stephen Harrison is the lead pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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