Summary: Some of the benefits of thankfulness during trials
Why It Is Important To Thank God and Take Courage
Illustration;Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. Warren Wiersby illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians. He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
Our Daily Bread, February 20, 1994.
1. Why do you suppose that it is so important that we thank God and take our courage from Him? Many people constantly wrestle with feelings of discouragement because they do not consistently thank God and appropriate the encouragement they have in Christ.
Paul had more reasons than most to complain about his stresses, pressures and persecutions, but he chose to give thanks. Paul especially thanks God for the encouragement, fellowship and sympathetic support offered to him by like-minded believers in this passage. Dr. Luke writes, “The Christian brethren in Rome, having had news of us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and received new courage.” (Acts 28:15)
There is something invigorating about Christian acceptance, support and encouraging visits. Paul publicly thanked God and took a special dose of encouragement from their act of love. Let us learn to consistently thank God for the encouragement, fellowship of the Spirit, consolation of love, affection and compassion we have in Christ. (Phil. 2:1,2)
Illustration:An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, "I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!" The kid is right.
Erma Bombeck, Redbook, October,1992
2. A thankful heart and a decision to take courage from the Lord should be a habit. The great apostle found renewed energy when he thanked God for all the good things he had in Christ.
People who are not grateful for what they have will not enjoy the things they wish they had.
Ask the Lord to help you rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” as Paul wrote. (I Thes. 5:16-18)
Illustration:Why did only one cleansed leper return to thank Jesus? The following are nine suggested reasons why the nine did not return:
One waited to see if the cure was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later.
One decided that he had never had leprosy.
One said he would have gotten well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, "O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything."
One said, "Any rabbi could have done it."
One said, "I was already much improved."
Charles L. Brown, Content The Newsletter, June, 1990, p. 3.
3. Thankfulness encouraged the Roman brethren to see that Paul saw them as co-laborers rather than inferior in any way. When we show appreciation for one another we overcome any tendency to think of ourselves as superior or inferior. Paul’s thankfulness helped everyone feel a special importance for their encouragement and support.
When we thank God for one another in a public setting we encourage each other to pray, serve and love in greater measure.
4. Thankfulness draws believers closer to each other around their unity in Christ.
It is easy to take one another for granted. It is even easier to forget all the blessings we share together in Christ.
Paul’s thankfulness set a pattern of thankfulness and encouragement for other Christian fellowships. Great fellowship is simply “fellows rowing together in the same ship.” The great apostle genuinely felt honored and publicly acknowledged the encouragement given to him by the Roman Christians.
Learn how to spend the initial moments of every meeting thanking God for the good things He has done in, through, with and in your participants. Thank God for giving you proof of His interest in you through others’ love and kind deeds.
5. Thankfulness lifts the hearts of everyone when they are reminded to express their appreciation, gratitude and enjoyment to the one from whom all blessings flow. Some of the saddest people in the world are those who least thankful to God and to others.
Ask the Lord to help you see the benefits of being more thankful, upbeat and encouraging. Thank God that His courage cannot be exhausted.