Here is what Paul has to say about giving thanks – “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
This verse includes three activities that we should be doing perpetually: rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. That is what our days should look like; these are what should be on our lips continually: praise, prayers, and thanks to God. I want to focus on giving thanks because I believe that the other two will follow if you get that one right.
Give thanks in all circumstances. What does it take to always be thankful? An easy life? A life free from troubles and pain? Did Paul’s life look like that? No…read the book of Acts. Paul’s life after receiving Christ included beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, and more. He had no life of leisure. More importantly, look at the life of Jesus; he was hated, had no place to lay his head, and was brutally beaten and crucified. These examples should speak volumes to us today. We tend to think that those who lived two thousand years ago can’t identify with our lives or the pain we go through. Quite the opposite is true! We can’t relate to their lives of difficulties because of our lives of comfort. If Paul and Jesus could rejoice and give thanks to God in everything they went through, then I certainly can do the same in my life and through my difficulties.
I want to get very practical with you now, Ladies. I want to deal with the anti-thankful state we often find ourselves in; the state of want or dissatisfaction. If you are like me, you hate those feelings; always feeling a little behind and a little less than everyone else around you. Here is how you combat that emotion: get your eyes on Christ. Remove from your eyesight all earthly things that make you covet and want “more”. If you feel unsatisfied with your looks after reading a fashion magazine, trash it. If you feel unhappy with your home after watching HGTV, block the channel. If going to the mall makes you want to buy more stuff, stop going there. Be firm with yourself and get rid of distractions to thanksgiving. “Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” - Hebrews 12:1.
Recognize that these are all the Enemy’s attempts at stealing your joy. Fight that by giving thanks to God for what he has given you. I find that when I am thankful for the house, body and life situation that God has blessed me with, there is no room for discontent. With Christ I am completely full; there is no lacking or need unmet. This is not to say that I don’t have earthly needs, but my eternal needs (what is of utmost importance) are fully satisfied.
Paul knew exactly what he was talking about when he told the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances.” He knew that our varying circumstances don’t change our relationship with our Savior. No matter what else goes on around us, or what happens to us, if we have Jesus, we have everything. If you have accepted what he has done for you on the cross, you are eternally well and safe. You can never lose that relationship and that is why there is always reason to give thanks. Our God is an awesome and mighty God, and has promised that once you are his, no one can snatch you out of his hand (John 10:28,29). In that we rejoice and give thanks in every season and in all circumstances!
If you have not started this relationship with Jesus, you are not eternally secure and no amount of thanksgiving will get you there. There is no better time than right now to accept his gift. Allow God to fill you with his eternal blessings and begin a new life of thanksgiving; always living in anticipation of his goodness.
Ladies, I want you to be determined in this quest of giving thanks. Not just in the next couple of weeks, but always. Get rid of distractions in life that lead to dissatisfaction. Mothers, teach your children to be continually thankful. Let them see you praise God when difficulties come. With a thankful heart fully satisfied in God you will find true and everlasting joy.