Yesterday in America, Thanksgiving Day was being celebrated across the nation. For many it’s their favorite holiday. It’s a day set aside each year to specifically take the time to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. Yesterday, I was particularly reflecting on people who have significantly touched my life. It was easy to be thankful for the deep love of dear friends.
No doubt, there was a great list of what people were thankful for yesterday, all over America. Some may have been thankful for good health, or the nearness of loved ones. Others may have been thankful they have a roof over their heads, or food on their table. It’s natural to be truly thankful for any of the above; the gratefulness flows from our hearts without reserve. All the above make being thankful rather easy. But what about the hard things?
What if your health isn’t good at all? What if loved ones are absent from your table? What if having a roof over your head is an uncertainty month by month? What if you rarely have a variety of things to eat and going to bed hungry isn’t unusual? What then? How can we be thankful for situations in life when they are less than pleasant?
There’s a tough verse in the Bible, found in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” This is one of those verses that we often wish wasn’t there. We would rather read and meditate upon the “nice” verses; the ones that make us feel all loved and hopeful.
When our worlds are turning upside down, reading “in everything give thanks” does not particularly cause fuzzy, warm feelings to appear in our hearts. We know God is love. We know God cares about everything happening in our lives. Why then, does He give us such a command, that seems to be rather heartless in times of great emotional difficulty?
You see, it’s all about the perspective. Some read this verse and mistakenly believe they are to try and conjure up thankfulness for bad things that happen. Good news — that’s not what God is saying at all. We know that by what the rest of the Bible reveals to us about the loving heart of our Father God. The perspective here is not the bad that happens; but rather, the goodness of God that is with us when turmoil comes knocking on our door.
When sickness comes upon us or a loved one, we don’t rejoice in the disease; we rejoice that God promised to be with us through it. When loved ones have passed away, leaving an emptiness in our homes, we don’t rejoice in death that took them from us; we rejoice that our God is the greatest comfort. We rejoice that He holds all our tears near to His own heart. He cares deeply for the grieving hearts of all who hurt. When lack of finances makes us wonder how we will pay the bills tomorrow, we don’t rejoice in the poverty of the moment; we rejoice in our Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. We rejoice that He promised to make a way in the wilderness. We rejoice that He promises to be our everything, through anything.
When we truly know Jesus, then no matter what turmoil or grief comes our way, we know the truth of what Jesus said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you.” If He is with us always, being our everything to get through anything — then of a certainty — we can lift up our faces toward our Father, and we can “give thanks in everything.”