Summary: We are told to give thanks IN everything, and give thanks FOR everything? Is this logical? Is this possible?
The Giving of Thanks in the Times of Trials
This is a list of things housewives are most thankful for: *For automatic dishwashers because they make it possible for us to get out of the kitchen before the family comes back in for their after-dinner snacks. *For husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house because they usually make them big enough to call in the pros. *For children who put away their things & clean up after themselves. They’re such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents. *For teenagers because they give parents an opportunity to learn a second language. *And, for Smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkey’s done." (Melvin Newland)
This season is meant to remind us to be thankful. Now, many people don’t take the time to think about WHOM they are thanking. Some nice being up in the sky someone, apparently. However, we as Christians know who it is that we are thankful to. Our God, the Father, maker of heaven and earth, creator of everything in them. And to Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for us. It is God that we are thankful to.
But, when are we thankful? When are we to give thanks? I mean, when was the last time that something bad happened to you? When was the last time something happened to you and the immediate response was certainly not thankfulness? This month? This week? This morning? How far are we to carry the idea of giving thanks? Even when bad things happen? And when they do, how do we thanks God? Today we will look at 2 verses in particular. They are found in Paul’s writings, 1 Thessalonians and Ephesians.
Now, the first passage says this: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess.5:18) In all. We are told that God wants us to give thanks in everything we go through. Well, it doesn’t take very long to see that this is hard. Lots of things are difficult and trying for us. We face pressures and struggles that seem insurmountable. And yet Paul tells us to give thanks. How can that be? Why should that be?
Well, let’s look at that for a few minutes. In all things. You know, when we come to the Lord, we are often told that we have to have faith. We are told we must believe. We must trust. So, we ask Him to forgive us and clean us, to change us and guide us. This is all by faith. And usually we start off great. We feel forgiven and we feel so close to the Lord. But at some point the feelings die out. Always. 100% of the time, the feelings calm down a little. And we are reminded of how much we still are like how we used to be. We don’t feel forgiven anymore and we don’t feel as close to the Lord anymore.
And we are faced with a choice. Turn back now and figure it was all a hoax, a figment of our imaginations. Or, we can press on. Many back out at this point. To keep going would feel fake. And so they give up. That’s what happens when you make a decision on faith but keep running by feelings.
But you know, God hasn’t changed. He’s still there. He still loves you. He still wants to forgive and clean you. That’s still His nature. But He allows the feelings to fade a little so that you aren’t running from one emotional high to another. He has to make you feel like you’re in the dark so that you will stumble towards the light.
How does this fit in with thanksgiving? Sometimes we go through dark times, even as older believers. But God still loves you. He still wants to forgive and clean you. And He wants you to trust Him even in the dark times. Giving thanks to God in everything, including our hardships and turmoil, is an act of faith. It’s certainly not an act of feelings. It’s an act of faith. It’s saying, “I trust you even now, Lord.” It’s saying, “I know You’re there behind the clouds, Father.” It’s saying, “I believe that this hasn’t got to come between us.”
It’s a matter of trust and hope, even through sorrow and loss. Someone wrote these words: I am thankful for...the taxes I pay, because it means I’m employed...The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat...My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine...A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home...The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking...My huge heating bill because it means I am warm...All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.. ..The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear...The piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby...The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I’m alive...And weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive. Folks, in all the circumstances of life, God is still good. And He’s still good to you. And He’s still good for you. Our passage once again says: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.