Summary: A one-shot sermon dealing with the question of why we should be thankful in the bad times of life.
An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that evolution had created.
"What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!", he said to himself. As he was walking along the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. When he turned to see what the casue was, he saw a 7-foot grizzly charging right towards him. He ran as fast as he could. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing, He ran even faster, crying in fear. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pounding and he tried to run even faster. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.
At that moment, the Atheist cried out "Oh my God!...." Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don’t exist; and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"
The atheist looked directly into the light "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?" "Very well," said the voice.
The light went out. The river ran again. And the sounds of the forest resumed.
And then the bear dropped his right paw ..... brought both paws together...bowed his head and spoke: "Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful."
The verse for this month is found in your bulletin. It’s from 1 Thessalonians 5, verse 18. I’d like you to read that verse with me this morning, in fact, let’s read it together. “18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s break down that verse—what is the apostle telling us to do? GIVE THANKS. When is he telling us to do it? IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. Why should we do it? IT IS GOD’S WILL FOR US. Does there seem to be any situation in which we can weasel our way out of it? NO.
So let me ask you a question. How easy is it to give thanks when it seems like life is out to get us like the bear in that story? Would we be able to give thanks when everything seems to be going wrong?
We call the fourth Thursday of the month of November Thanksgiving. It’s a time set aside to honor the first pilgrim’s and the first dinner—and let’s be honest. Who can tell me the true story of Thanksgiving? All we know is that we are supposed to eat turkey, and watch football, and then go shopping. And at some point, be thankful.
But what if life is not letting you be thankful? What if everything seems to have gone wrong? Maybe for you the bills are racking up, and you don’t know how you are going to make it. Maybe this year you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, and you don’t know what the holidays are going to be like, except that you already know you’re lonely.
This past week, two people associated with this church have passed on to glory. I presided over my fourth church funeral in less than three months. How can we be thankful in times like these? At times when we are reminded of the uncertainty and frailty of human life? Why should we be thankful? We know God commanded it, but why? Why doesn’t he just always give us good times and good situations—it’s easy to be thankful in those times, and we can understand that we should be thankful when things are good. But when things are bad? Why should I be thankful?
This morning, we are going to answer that question—why should I be thankful?
The first reason is this—God is always with you. God is always with you.
I’ve shared this truth with others. When God chose to reveal Himself , He used different terms to describe Himself. In the Bible, God calls Himself by many different names. Each one of those names is a description of His character. Each one of those names is a promise to you.
At the end of the book of Ezekiel, God gives one of His names. He says “I am Jehovah Shammah.” In Hebrew that means, “I am the God who is always there.” There is no place that God is not. There is no place you will go that God isn’t. God has been in your past. He’s in your present. He’s going to be in your future. He’s in the good times and the bad times. He’s in the good places. He’s in the evil places. He is everywhere.