For many Christians, next week is very positive. It’s Thanksgiving week. It’s a short work week and a time to gather with family. Oh yes, there’s quite a bit of food involved too! However, for some Christians, the very thought of Thanksgiving week is almost unbearable. How could that be? If you have ever experienced the first Thanksgiving without a loved one at the table, you know exactly what I mean. For others, this is the first Thanksgiving after a crushing divorce, and still others are wondering if a struggling adult child will even show up for Thanksgiving dinner. Others are dealing with a cancer diagnosis or great job uncertainty. Let’s be honest, there are many people (even many Christians) who don’t feel like Thanksgiving right now. Their pain is very real. They feel that they are on the verge of totally losing hope. What do you do when you don’t feel like Thanksgiving?
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)
Don’t recoil at reading this verse. It doesn’t say what you THINK it says. It’s doesn’t say give thanks “for” all circumstances, but rather it says to give thanks “in” all circumstances. That is an extremely important distinction. Here’s what I mean. A very good friend of mine recently buried his wife after an excruciating battle with cancer. He is not thanking God that his wife died. That is a crushing hurt that only those who have been there know. However, he is giving thanks for God’s faithfulness. Do you see the difference? My friend is giving thanks “in all circumstances.” If we really believe what we say we believe as Christians, we have much to be thankful to our great God for – even if He allows tragedy to touch our lives. For instance, no matter our circumstances, we can be thankful for God’s love and mercy which was displayed on the cross and extended to us as His children. No matter our circumstances, we can be thankful that we know without reservation our faith will end in sight and we will live with our Savior forever. The truth is that even in this life, God has blessed us abundantly more than we ever could deserve. He is faithful. He is good. He is Lord. THAT is why we can give thanks in all circumstances.
So, what do you do when you don’t feel like Thanksgiving? You must consciously choose to give thanks to God. Choose to give thanks, even if everything in you feels like giving up. You’ll be glad that you did!