Someone has said that Thanksgiving is the most Christian holiday in our country. Setting apart a day to consider all of the blessings we enjoy, and to be thankful for them is truly noble. As the first Pilgrims gave thanks with the Indians that first Thanksgiving Day, so will many throughout our land this Thursday.
As crazy as this year has been so far even the most troubled people on earth can find much for which to be thankful. The practice of giving thanks and the attitude behind the practice should characterize us throughout the year and not just on Thanksgiving Day.
The Bible commands Christians to be thankful. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The scope of our thanksgiving extends to all events in all places at all times. While it is easier to give thanks in good times, this command is comprehensive. In everything give thanks! Although certain events in our lives are horrible, we can and must maintain an attitude of gratitude.
If we can be thankful in the craziest of years, I think we’ll be on our way to finding a truly grateful heart. If this week finds your family in a severe time of testing, you can still give thanks on Thanksgiving. Let’s consider several things to be thankful for in very hard times.
First, thank God that he is in absolute control of your situation. Nothing in this life touches a person that does not first go through God’s sovereign hands. “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). God’s sovereignty over a horrible situation does not mean that God is responsible for the sin in the situation. He does, however, allow bad situations to occur for his greater overall purpose.
Second, thank God, if you are a Christian, that God is using this situation in your life for ultimate good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
While this promise does not insure that bad events will never happen to a true believer, it certainly guarantees that each event that occurs will be worked together for ultimate good. The next two verses in Romans 8 describe this good as the believer being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. James 1:2-6 echoes the same message, as James commands us to consider trials to be joyful, knowing that God is using them to make us like Jesus. For this great truth, we must thank God in the tough times.
Third, when you are in a difficult situation, thank God for his promises. Not only can we thank him that he is in control of the situation, that he is at work in the situation, we can also thank God for his promises to us to get us through the situation.
While the Bible is full of precious promises, two can be cited as examples. First Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” This promise assures the believer that God controls the nature of the trial, the duration of the trial, and that God provides the power to endure the tough time without sinning. This one verse is loaded with objects of thanksgiving!
A second promise is found at the end of Hebrews 13:5: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Thank God for the promise of his presence. It is so comforting to know that God is with you in the storm.
Finally, thank God that you are not getting what you deserve. As you look around, things may seem hopeless, and life may seem to be collapsing on top of you. When you consider God’s awesome holiness, however, and your lifestyle of sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions (even as Christians), you deserve nothing but unbridled hell for all of eternity. Only through God’s gracious offer of forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ do any of us escape the horrible consequences that we truly deserve. Thinking soberly about this reality should make us eternally grateful to the Lord, no matter what situation we find ourselves in.
Don’t reserve all of your thanks for Thanksgiving Day. Strive to maintain a year-round attitude of gratitude. Even the toughest of years fall within the scope of the command to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Giving thanks acknowledges God as the source of all of the blessings of life (see James 1:17). It reminds us of his goodness, and his purpose in all the events of life. Thanksgiving is also a humble acknowledgment that he is God and we are not. Enjoy this truest Christian holiday to the fullest, but cultivate the heart of thanksgiving always.
By: John Crotts