One of my favorite verses in the Bible is, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB) in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It is not a favorite verse because I am always thankful, but because it reminds me that there is so much for which to be thankful.
We recently had our annual international thanksgiving dinner. And this year, I tried to find something to be thankful for and to celebrate. So, my wife found an article that was done by an author who struggled every year at Thanksgiving to find a way to get past the stereotypical, “I’m thankful for food” or “I’m thankful for family”, which are all good things for which to be thankful, so that she could really focus on all that goes into providing Thanksgiving. So, she played a game with her family. The game was to see how many things they could be thankful for, that were out of the ordinary things people think about. Her son started by being thankful for the farmers who grow the produce for Thanksgiving. Then the truck drivers who deliver the food. Then the manufacturers who not only can the food but also the people who make the cans for the cranberry sauce, etc.
That made me think about how much goes into Thanksgiving, the time, the money, the people, the equipment, etc. I realized once again that we are truly a blessed people, a blessed nation, if you will. God has given us so much to be thankful for.
But the real meaning of being thankful goes much deeper than the things we are part of or even the people in our lives. When God said we are to be thankful for all things, he wasn’t just talking about the things that we enjoy or benefit from. He was talking about the challenges and the difficulties too. Because He uses everything, and every situation to show us how much we need Him. In other words, we need to be thankful everyday for God and His goodness to us. Because even though things are not “good” in this life, God does all things well. And He does or allows all things for His purposes, which are for the best for His people.
Also, God was reminding the Thessalonians, through the writing of the Apostle Paul, that when we are thankful for all things, even the difficult things and times, changes our heart and mind. In other words, its very difficult to be thankful and be in a bad mood at the same time. It’s hard to be upset with someone or some circumstance when we are truly thanking the Lord for the circumstance. You might be saying, “but I don’t feel like being thankful at times”. I understand that well, but our feelings are not the issue God is addressing. He is addressing the facts about Who is in control of our lives. He is. So, if God is in control of all things in our lives, there is nothing we have to complain about or to be upset about. I don’t mean we won’t have times we are sad or upset, but in those times, we won’t be overwhelmed by them or overcome by them. We will remember, God loves us and has given us an eternal home. So, even in the midst of our challenges, our eternal destiny will never change.
As you think about your life, is it possible to be thankful for everything? You might not think so, but if you will focus on all God has done for you, you will find it is possible to be thankful for all things or in all things. For example, did you know that God sent His Son into the world to rescue you from eternal destruction? Did you know Jesus came to save you, not judge you? Did you know that if He had not done that, you would have no hope of ever being with Him in eternity forever? Did you know He loves you that much? It’s true. John 3:16-17 (NASB) 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. You see? God loves you. And not only does He love you, He has proven His love for you by what He did for you.
Listen, to be loved by the God of the universe, the God of all creation, is something for which to be ever thankful.
So, when you find yourself in the dumps of life, remember, He didn’t necessarily come to save you from all the problems, but He did come to save your soul for eternity. Isn’t that a lot to be thankful for? I think so and I hope you will as well.