“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
(1Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)
As October comes to a close and November begins, thoughts of Thanksgiving enter the mind. This is a holiday that we all enjoy and that that most of us find very meaningful. We enjoy the time with family and friends. Without question, we enjoy the food. And we recognize the importance of offering thanks to God, who has given us all that we have.
It’s often frustrating to look at our society and to see the sense of entitlement that fills the hearts of many. They feel that they’re deserving of the blessings they’ve received and those they desire. So, instead of giving thanks, they’re continually looking for more. Instead of expressing gratefulness for the provision of God, they grumble and complain about the things they lack.
This is an attitude with which we all struggle to some degree. We find it hard to give thanks in all circumstances, as directed by Paul. We find it hard to give thanks in all circumstances, even if it is the will of God. We find this difficult because not all of our circumstances are pleasant.
When confronted with situations that are challenging, when confronted with hardship, our first reaction is to ask God why he would allow such a thing in our life. In the moment, we don’t see a reason to be grateful. In fact, we often find in it cause to accuse God.
We accuse God of being unloving. We accuse him of injustice. We accuse him because we don’t think ourselves worthy of such experiences.
We fail to remember that we’re not deserving of any of the blessings God has bestowed upon us or those that he has to offer. Because of our sin, the only thing of which we’re deserving is death and condemnation. Yet, in spite of this, God has done everything necessary to provide for us the forgiveness of sins and eternity in a place where the evils of this life are no more.
We also fail to realize that, even in our bad experiences, God is working for our blessing. In Romans 8:28 Paul says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It doesn’t say that everything that happens to us is good. But, in all things, God is able to work for our good.
Sometimes, in hindsight, we may come to understand how God was using a hardship for our blessing. In other cases, we may never fully understand. But, as believers, we have this confidence and hope.
In Romans 5, Paul tells us that we can rejoice in our sufferings. We can do so knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. God works through our sufferings to strengthen us. He works through our sufferings to transform us. He uses suffering to build within us a confident expectation that everything he’s promised will come to pass.
So as we approach Thanksgiving, and as we celebrate this meaningful holiday, let us give thanks in all circumstances. Let us give thanks knowing the great blessing that God has in store for us. Let us give thanks knowing that, no matter how things may seem, he’s working for our good. And let us give thanks knowing that God will use even our struggles to draw us closer to himself.