Turkey Day is approaching quickly: all the groceries bought, dishes cooked, pies prepared, football schedule checked, and family gathering. Hopefully you’ll be able to share this holiday with someone you love, and not get too consumed with Black Friday deals. It’s sad to say, but what started out as a day set apart for heartfelt praise for God’s provision, has for many, evolved into a commercial event of gluttony and covetousness. Forgive me if I sound harsh, I’m just under conviction.
How often have I let a lack of thankfulness minimize my joy? Too many times I fear. This year, God is teaching me a deeper truth about gratitude. He directs those who know Christ (and the priceless salvation found only in Him) to be thankful in all circumstances. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote the following words in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (5:17)
That sure simplifies things. If I want to know God’s will for me in any particular situation, it’s to be thankful!
Sure, no problem, as long as there is extra money in the bank, the kids are behaving, both cars are running and my husband is attentive. It’s the “in all circumstances” part that causes me to stumble sometimes. For when unexpected medical bills arrive, a car breaks down, the kids get in trouble, or a friend betrays a confidence…I have difficulty being thankful. How about you?
Still, I’m learning the secret to contentment is thanking God for everything, by trusting He can use everything for my good. (Romans 8:28) Is He faithful or not? Will He provide for my needs, or not? Just because He may not answer my prayers in the way I hope, or in the timing I expect, it doesn’t mean He isn’t working things out for my good.
Last week, it was my privilege to share about “Thankfulness” with the dear ladies of Victory Baptist Church. After a delicious turkey dinner, I highlighted a wonderful book in my presentation. Maybe you have read it. Ann Voskamp’s memoir entitled “One Thousand Gifts” is a precious account of her journey in praising God for the ordinary “gifts” of life. Thanking Him for a beautiful full moon; for clean, crisp sheets; for a pre-schooler’s toothless grin; are all ways to praise God for the multitude of blessings we often take for granted. Ann’s premise is that the continual act of giving thanks promotes communion with God, service to others and a deep joy.
Now, God doesn’t want us to “fake” thanksgiving, offering Him hollow or insincere gratitude, but rather to thank Him in spite of our trials and challenges. He doesn’t require us to be overjoyed when we are overwhelmed, only to realize He has the power and love to get us through anything.
So it was for my family this past year. Not only did God get us through prolonged financial challenges, but also through major surgery and recovery too. Though He didn’t answer my specific prayer for supernatural healing, He provided for my deep emotional need for connection. Bringing thoughtful folks alongside me, not only helped me in my recovery, but filled my heart. Oh, how I see His hand of blessing despite the hardships we endured.
Truly, God’s will for us who love Him, is to practice thanksgiving as a lifestyle. A little adjustment to our attitude can go a long way, for “godliness and contentment are great gain.” Let’s be a thankful people, not just in November, but all year through!