“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). If we are ever to wonder what the will of God would be for us and our churches, these succinct exhortations make it quite clear. If we were to simply focus on those three short commands of Scripture it would completely alter the spiritual landscape of our lives and our churches.
This is a season in which we take the time to intentionally and specifically thank God. Engrafting the practice of thanksgiving into our lives on a consistent basis is a means of keeping cynicism and sarcasm away from us. At this time of year we are not only in danger of frostbite on our fingers from being outside too long; we also can be in danger of having frostbite of the soul by a prolonged exposure to negative thinking and speech. Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to allow your inner self to thaw in the warmth of God’s grace and goodness.
It is an understatement to say that this has been a difficult year for my family. Yet despite the challenges we have faced and are still facing we are thankful. The Apostle Paul specifically encouraged the church to look for ways to be thankful whatever the circumstances may be. So, I want to express my thanks to God in the following ways:
- I thank God for the opportunity to demonstrate love for my wife through caring for her after three surgeries this year.
- I thank God for my epileptic grandson’s constant happiness, his encouraging spirit, his smile, and the joy he brings to others.
- I thank God for my oldest daughter’s hard work and her courage in raising a special needs son.
- I thank God for my youngest daughter’s humor and keepin’ it real.
- I thank God for my middle daughter and her husband – that they love the Lord in so many ways.
- I thank God for the privilege of preaching God’s grace to my congregation each week.
- I thank God for the many people who care and pray for me and my family each and every day.
- I thank God for all you who commit yourselves daily to God’s Word.
- And consistent with Paul’s admonition to be thankful in all circumstances, I thank God for the problems and the adversities of my life which humbles my heart to pray.
What has God done in your life this year? How has his grace been mediated to you through the church? In what ways can you be thankful in the midst of adversity or difficulty? How is God currently blessing you? To whom could you express gratitude for being helpful or encouraging?