This week most of us will join with family and friends for another Thanksgiving Day observance. In addition to traditional feasting (and post-feasting napping), holiday parades and football games, many of us will pause to thank God for our blessings.
By “blessings,” of course, we typically think “good stuff” – good health; warm places to live; ample food; jobs; cars; money to pay bills; loved ones. But have you ever considered giving thanks for the hardships and adversities that are so much a fact of life?
One of the first Bible verses I ever learned, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances. That, we would all agree, is easier said than done.How can you give thanks for cancer or heart disease, being unemployed, having financial obligations that far exceed income, having a beloved relative engaged in war thousands of miles away, or some other dire situation that seems to defy resolution?
For many Thanksgiving Day isn’t all turkey and stuffing. It also involves aching hearts and hurting bodies. Yet the Scriptures direct us, according to another translation, “in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
That doesn’t mean having to be happy about adverse circumstances. If anything, we might be tempted to say, “thanks for nothing!” But the Scriptures assure us God is in control – everything is reviewed according to His sovereign, permissive will. Jesus said, “(God) causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
Looking back over my life, I now realize God used some of the worst times in my life for my ultimate best – even when that had seemed impossible.So Thursday, when you bow in prayer, try to thank God for everything.