“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)
Today in America is Thanksgiving Day. As is the case every seven years, it’s also my birthday. I’m turning 75 today, so I have thousands of reasons to be grateful, but supreme in my mind and heart is my gratitude to God for His mercies and kindness in allowing me to be His child.
Notice the verse above instructs us to “Be thankful in ALL circumstances.” How can anyone do that, especially if they’re experiencing challenging circumstances? Many today will be gathering with family and close friends. Is this the first Thanksgiving someone is missing? Perhaps because of death or travel restrictions they won’t be joining you, so, there’s an emptiness because of their absence.
Perhaps your health is declining, making it difficult or impossible for you to be able to participate in your normal family festivities. Or your child is away because of work or school and unable to come home on this important family holiday. Maybe you’ve had a falling out with someone in your family, so even if you do get together, things will be strained.
Whatever the circumstances of your life today, you have many things for which you can joyfully give thanks. How can I say that? The verse above gives us two very important reasons to rejoice today. First, because it’s God’s will. And, secondly, because we “belong to Christ Jesus.”
Knowing and doing God’s will are sometimes two very different things. I’m reminded of the story Jesus told in Matthew 21:28-31, about a father with two sons. He told the older son to go and work in the vineyard, but the son said, “No, I won’t go.” But later he changed his mind and went. The father told his younger son the same thing, to which the younger son said, “Yes, I will,” but didn’t go. Then Jesus asked the question: “Which of the two obeyed his father?” Obviously, the one who went and worked in the vineyard.
What does this story have to do with gratitude? Often, our ability to be thankful is contingent upon our obedience. We reason that if we’ve been faithful and have done what our heavenly Father has asked of us, then we’re good to go, we can be grateful that we have, at least in our mind, a right standing with God, thus, grounds for gratitude and celebration.
What if we’ve been the proverbial “younger son,” and we’ve not been submissive to our Father’s authority? God’s love for us is never contingent upon our obedience. Nothing we do or don’t do can cause God to love us any differently. He IS love and His love for us never changes. That alone is always reason to be grateful.
Yet, the truth is, even when we obey to the best of our ability and our love for God never waivers, there are still times “bad things” happen that affect us. Can we still give thanks in those circumstances? Yes, but not necessarily for the circumstances themselves, but for the God who works through all circumstances to bring good to those who love Him.
Today, regardless of whether this, in your mind, is a great day or the worst day of your life – GIVE THANKS! Be thankful you have a Savior who is Christ the Lord! You have an eternal Friend who has overcome the world and has your back. He will never leave you or forsake you. Whether you’re sitting down to a feast or you’re so broke you can’t afford a candy bar – GIVE THANKS! God is with you and brighter days are ahead.
Sometime today, find a quiet spot and pray this simple prayer: “Father, regardless of the circumstances of my life today, I confess my love for You and my need of You. You are my everything and I trust You based on who You are, not on who I am or what I have. I love You and I want only and always what You want for me. Please accept my gratitude for who You are and who You’re allowing me to become. Whoever I am or whomever I may one day become is all because of You. If I’m alive You’re not finished with me. Allow me to honor You in my attitude and actions, not allowing my circumstances to dictate my emotions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
I’m praying you’re experiencing a joy-filled and thanks-filled day.
Blessings, Ed 😊
2 thoughts on “A Reason to Be Grateful”
Brother Ed – thank you for your obedience to say “YES” to God and share your insights of a life communed in relationship with our Savior and unwrapped and supported scripturally. For your sharing and your heart of love for God, and for others to know Jesus, I am grateful. I have been inspired, encouraged, confirmed, affirmed, challenged and convicted through reading these daily shares. So, THANK YOU Ed!
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I thought you were “32”, though? Happy Thanksgiving to you, Kathy and your loved ones!
Thank you, brother, for your kind and thoughtful words, I give thanks for your faithfulness and desire to know, love, and serve our Savior. I’m grateful the words the Lord gives me to write are blessing you and I pray your fruitfulness in this coming year will be great to His glory, honor, and fame. The Lord has been good to me, so when I view the old guy in the mirror, I smile and thank Him for His faithfulness in continuing to use me even as I age. These days, about the only time I feel 32 is when I’m sleeping or eating my favorite Thanksgiving meal! 🙂