How many Thanksgiving Days do you have each year?
Okay, I know that in the U.S. we have only one official day we call Thanksgiving. But, based on my reading of Scripture, I’m quite sure God has a few more in mind for us. Like at least 365 per year!
It’s difficult for me to ponder the subject of giving thanks, without thinking about the apostle Paul. Because if anyone had the right—humanly speaking—to be a bit glum and pouty, it would be Paul.
Think of all the pain he went through as a follower of Christ! Shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, snakes … he wrote most of his letters from prison, chained to guards, walls, or fellow prisoners. I’m sure the smell alone was nauseating!
Yet it was this same Paul who repeatedly told those receiving his letters to give thanks and be full of thankfulness. Here’s just one of his exhortations, and it includes a strong hint of how he was able to maintain an attitude of gratitude in the midst of his troubles:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7 NLT).
As we look to Jesus, who literally went to hell on our behalf, we get encouragement to endure whatever He has ordained for us.
It’s also important to note that Scripture doesn’t say we always need to feel thankful; but we arecommanded to “give thanks.” Consider these verses:
- “. . . always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20 NIV).
- “. . . give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
While these passages don’t leave much room for complaining, they do indicate that giving thanks is a matter of our obedience more than a matter of emotion.
I have found that, when I obey these verses (despite how I feel) and choose to give thanks—even for painful circumstances—God will often open a door for blessing to flow out on myself and those around me (Romans 8:28). Regardless of the outcome, if He is our Lord, we need to obey Him in the power of His Spirit.
So I encourage you, and myself as well, to use this Thanksgiving Day as a time we recommit ourselves to choose, throughout our year, to offer thanks to our gracious God every day.
Certainly we will thank Him for His many blessings; but we will even choose to say thank you for the painful times when we stub our toe, back into our neighbor’s mailbox, get a lower grade than we had hoped for, make an embarrassing mistake, or whatever, knowing He will certainly work it all out for good as we love Him and seek to follow Him.