Don’t you find it easy to be thankful when all is going well? We sit around artfully set tables laden with all the goodies of the season, take our piece of corn, and as we place it into the basket provided we take our turn expressing gratitude for particular good gifts in our lives. “I’m glad I have a job. I’m thankful for my children. I’m grateful for the bounty God has given me. Good health is a blessing. God kept me safe on my trip. What a marvel I am His child.”
Who isn’t thankful for these good things from God’s hand? But have you ever sat around a table where God was thanked for a severe trial in which one found herself? For that baby lost? For that difficult person in life? The wayward child who breaks our hearts? The close friend who became a back-stabber? Our difficult spouse? For the disease that ravages one’s own body or that of a loved one? For financial downturn? For the everyday sorts of trials and sufferings which are inconvenient and discomforting? And the enabling to do so was because of the deep-seated knowledge that God is good, no matter what, that He did not capriciously ordain this difficult situation because He likes to watch His children suffer? Are we are able to give thanks because we know that it is in our weakness His strength is made perfect and complete? (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
Look at Paul, a man marked for salvation by God, saved from a life of prodigious, dead religiosity and feverish zeal against Christ-lovers. God told His fearful and reluctant servant, Ananias, to receive a newly converted Saul (Paul), God’s chosen vessel, to whom “the Lord would show how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” And suffer he did–Mockings and multiple beatings, imprisonments and stonings, shipwrecked three times, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, cold and nakedness, persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles. And yet, it is Paul who tells us of the fruit of the Spirit, contrary to the evil and selfish ambitions of the world…The fruit of the Spirit in light of all his sufferings. Patience? Self-Control? Love? Gentleness? Only one who knows that God is good in His grand sovereignty will exhibit these Spirit-imbued qualities with an appreciative attitude. Without a heart of thanks in all things in our lives how would we be patient and kind and loving? If we are not grateful for trials we will not be joyful. We will only mumble and grumble or lash out, in essence accusing God of not knowing what He is doing.
During this season designated for Thanksgiving let’s ponder Scriptures on giving thanks. Here are just a few.
Psalm 106:1. “Praise the Lord! Oh GIVE THANKS to the Lord, for He is good…”
Philippians 4:6. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.”
COLOSSIANS 3:15. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be THANKFUL.”
Philippians 4:4. “REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS: and again I say, REJOICE” (A rejoicer is one who is thankful.)
And this from Paul, the sufferer:
1 Thessalonians 5-16-18. “Rejoice ALWAYS, pray without ceasing, give THANKS in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
A mark of the pagan world around us is an ungrateful heart. Paul tells us in Chapter 1 of Romans, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, NOR WERE THEY THANKFUL…”
Dearest sister, we are not like the world. We are Christ’s and bear His likeness. We might say it begins and ends with this verse from 2 Corinthians 9:15. Let us, together, with Paul, with all the saints in heaven and in earth, no matter our circumstances, shout for all the world to hear: “THANKS BE TO GOD FOR HIS INDESCRIBABLE GIFT!” This gift is a person, the Lord Jesus, our sin-bearer, our living hope for the life to come where all our tears will be wiped away.
Giving thanks in ALL things with you,