“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
On my desk, there is this business card case. And it has the parts of verse 18 of the Bible verse above on it… “In everything, give thanks.” I thought it was humorous when I bought it. I mean, when do you usually need a business card case? Probably when you’re looking for work. And it’s never an easy time.
So why give thanks?
And don’t we often fall into this spiral of complaints? One thing goes wrong, then everything else goes wrong. And there’s so much to be unhappy about. So much to worry about. So much to plan. (I could tell you about the month of November, and my car breaking down. About moving, and unexpected internet hiccups, issues with movers, plumbers, electricians… Work that is piling up, my latest writer’s block…) And suddenly, you no longer remember what it is exactly that is bothering you, but can sense this cloud of doom that’s constantly in the back of your mind.
But we are called to give thanks (and rejoice always).
For at least 2 reasons:
1) For that which you have lost, turn your thoughts to think about what you still have. (E.g. Yes, I lost the car, but I still have my health and safety. And through this, I learned that I have wonderful friends and family on whom I can depend.)
2) Character lessons that God chooses to build you up (Think Proverbs 3:11-12)
The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build up his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel. —Maltbie D. Babcock
Hence, I have learned of late that it is wiser to give thanks to God for what He puts in my life.
…No matter how bad or difficult, I believe there is still something to be thankful for. Life, at the very least.
And the next step is to think about what lessons is God trying to teach me here?
…Two simple steps. But if we were to actually apply them to events that happen in our day-to-day lives, we would begin to see the challenges. But hey! Let’s learn this together.
And lastly, what for?
Does giving thanks make us happier? (Thinking of Proverbs 17:22)
…It could. But I would like to think that we are called to be more than just ‘happy people,’ but happiness is a byproduct of something else we’re called to do.
I think it is because thanksgiving (and giving God praise) is what we are called to do, as part of glorifying God with our lives.
…Because the alternative is a poor testimony of a sad and grumbling soul that does not bring glory to God. But when we give thanks, despite our circumstance, we acknowledge that we know God is still in control (even though we often do not understand the reason), that we know He loves His own, and that we will continue to obey and walk with Him still.
So this Thanksgiving, my dear friends from south of the border. GIVE THANKS! (Wherever you are, and whatever the circumstance. )
I’m ending with a hymn that was share at a friend’s baptism this afternoon.
(Italicized the actions that I am trying to stop and change, and underlined those that I am – by the grace of God – working towards.)
1) Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.
2) Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.
3) Once ’twas busy planning,
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once ’twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.
Take care for now,