Thanksgiving is just a few days away. The busyness around the kitchen to get the turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, etc., ready. The frantic runs to Market Basket and the pressure to make Thanksgiving memorable oftentimes drains our ability to experience the joy of genuinely focusing our thankfulness to God. For some, Thanksgiving is hard as they miss the people they love not sitting around their table. For them, Thanksgiving, just like all holidays, brings emptiness with grief overshadowing their joy. Into this life reality shines the biblical command, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18) reminding us that thanksgiving is a genuine expression of our Christian identity.
The command does not ask us to “Feel” thankful in all circumstances but to “Give” thanks in all circumstances. In other words, give thanks, not when you feel thankful, but irrespective of what you feel, you give thanks. The problem with giving thanks when we ‘feel’ like giving it, is that our feelings are based on how our emotions interpret our life circumstances. Now there is nothing wrong in how we feel about our life circumstances, but if we base our spiritual life on our feelings, we fail to see God’s higher plan and purpose for our lives. Truths like; nothing in our life happens by chance, that God is sovereign, that all things work together for good to those who love God, that his grace is sufficient for us, that nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus, that the Holy Spirit lives in us and He prays for us when we are too weak to pray, that while we suffer outwardly, we are renewed inwardly, that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory. There is more to this list, but you get the point. Sometimes when we feel the pain and agony of a sin cursed world, these truths do not make sense and we want to hang more on our feelings but the more we ‘give’ thanks as a command it seems like the scales fall from our eyes and we begin to see glimpses of God’s glory sprinkled on the black backdrop of our life circumstances like diamonds on black velvet.
Giving thanks as a way of life is like changing the eyeglasses through which we see our circumstances in our minute speck of life in this world. As we do this our understanding and intimacy with God grows larger, and our present struggles will gradually (not instantly) fade into oblivion. The interesting thing about 1 Thess 5:18 is what it says at the end; ‘this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ We often connect God’s will in our life with some major life decisions – should I marry this guy/girl or not? Should I take up this job or not? But here it says God’s will in our life is to thank Him everywhere, in everything, no matter what. This is possible only “In Christ Jesus”.
Have a restful, joyful, and thankful week,