Summary: Paul writes to the church and to us that we can be content and happy and thankful, even in the hard times in our lives. Jesus models this thankfulness even when death on a cross is eminent.
Giving Thanks, Even In The Hard Times
Philippians 4: 10-13
Intro: The day before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough. We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her."
Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. "Like heck they’re getting divorced," she shouted, "I’ll take care of This." She called Phoenix immediately, and said to her father. "You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?"
The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. "Okay, honey. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and paying for their own flights this time."
. The holiday season is officially here. Thanksgiving is Thursday and the shopping season starts.
. While we are going to be busy with family and all that goes along with Thanksgiving, we need to remember to stop and truly realize to whom our thanks should be directed.
. No matter what our circumstances in life are, we can be thankful to God.
. The classic picture that we see and have in our minds comes from what is considered the first Thanksgiving.
. If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks?
Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.
They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, "First, make thy will."
The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home - Plymouth, they called it - winter had set in.
The storms were frightful. Shelter was almost non existent. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick.
"That which was most sad and lamentable," Governor William Bradford later recalled, "was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases.... There died sometimes two or three of a day."
When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was stolen by pirates.
If you had been there in 1621 - if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy - would you have felt grateful?
. They were. They realized that even in the hard times, God was with them.
. In our scripture this morning, Paul is telling us this same thing.
. We can and should give thanks to God, even in the hard times.
.Philippians 4: 10-13
10How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me.
11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
13For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
. Paul wrote this short letter to the Philippian church while he was in prison. A member of the church in Philippi had brought him some supplies and money to sustain him while he was in prison.
. Paul thanks them and tells them that even if nothing had been sent, he was content.
. Paul had learned to be thankful to God, no matter what his circumstances.
. He had learned to be content as he called it.
. Look at verse 11 again:
. 11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
. Paul writes that no matter what we can be content, we can be happy, we can be thankful.
. This was a man who knew hardships.
. He was beaten many times, jailed many times for his faith but he never wavered in his thankfulness.