Giving thanks doesn’t end when Thanksgiving is over
I love Thanksgiving time because it’s a time for me to remember all that God has given me and to thank Him for it.
The Apostle Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” God’s will for us is that we should have an attitude of gratitude — be thankful all of the time. Most of us have no problem thanking God for the good things.
But is Paul telling us to thank God for the bad things? When we get sick, should we say: “Thank you, God, for COVID-19?”
When we lose our job, should we say: “Thank you, God, I’m unemployed?”
Of course not!
Look again at the verse. Notice that Paul says we are to give thanks IN everything not FOR everything.
When you praise God IN your worst situations, it ignites your faith and moves God’s hand… because faith is what pleases God.
An attitude of gratitude looks at the problem and prays: “Lord, I don’t know how to handle this but I’m trusting You to help me through it.” That’s what being thankful in everything means — and that’s God’s will for us.
In every situation, you’re faced with a choice: Are you going to be a Grumbler or a Thank-er? Grumblers have a hard time being happy because they focus on what they don’t have. And that makes them pretty miserable people. But Thank-ers don’t focus on what they don’t have — they’re too busy being thankful for all of the things they do have.
Apostle Paul also wrote: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” and “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say Rejoice!”
Do you know where he was when he wrote that? He was in prison! (He wasn’t saying: “I’m in jail — woohoo! Party time!”) Notice he said: “Rejoice in the Lord” — not in your circumstances. In the midst of difficulties, we can make the choice to rejoice IN THE LORD anyway. Satan doesn’t know what to do with people who keep praising God despite their circumstances!
Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine) Paul said the way to get over anxiety is to put thanksgiving with our prayers. The truth is: God can give us peace but it’s up to us to make use of that peace. Grumbling and complaining won’t change anything. You might as well stay thankful and stay at peace.
Perhaps you’re having a hard time being thankful this year because of the pandemic, unemployment, death of a loved one, or some other problem you’re facing.
Psalm 136 gives us 26 reasons to thank God and they all end the same way, “because His mercy endures forever.” God doesn’t give you mercy for something today and then take it back tomorrow.
The mercy He shows us is good for eternity!
God doesn’t want His children living in fear about what’s happening in the world or what may be coming against them.
If we can be thankful for mashed potatoes and turkey, that are here one minute and gone the next, we can surely be thankful for God’s love and mercy that endure forever.
Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.