We know Thanksgiving as that one time of the year where family and close friends gather, large amounts of turkey, sides and desserts are consumed, football is watched, and glorious naps are taken. These are the memories that we cherish, and these memories are irreplaceable. Although everyone may not share such warm memories every year, there certainly is some amount of joyful thoughts and reflections when Thanksgiving comes to mind. There is also a strong, historical emphasis on Thanksgiving, which should bring us gratitude and appreciation.
Although these two components of historical heritage and priceless memories are both very significant and are not in themselves bad or unimportant things, there is more to this day than just yearly traditions.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the apostle Paul closes out his letter to the church of the Thessalonians with some final instructions on purposeful, Christ-like living. He tells them, very simply to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The actual will of God for this church, and for us today, was and is to hold fast to these three components. I’m fascinated by each of these because they are simply said, but so difficult to do; yet I have found that when you make these your daily goal, it really does make a difference.
As I’ve pondered about giving thanks in all circumstances, these three things have personally come to my mind. Obviously, there are more that could be noted, but consider giving thanks for these this week:
1. Suffering and Trials
Suffering and trials in life are not easy, and should not be minimized, but as we have been learning recently at Vintage Church through our “Love Wins” series in 1 Peter, they have great significance! Consider giving thanks to God for the difficult seasons and circumstances that you face, knowing that God is using them to conform you to the image of Jesus, and to be spiritually mature and complete. We cannot be like Jesus until we have faced suffering and trials. They shape and sanctify us as Christians and are both necessary and purposeful.
2. The Simple Things
The simple things in life are those that we experience on a daily and weekly basis but often take for granted, such as a hot cup of coffee in the morning, a walk through the park on a brisk, sunny day, a new pair of running shoes, a phone call with a close friend or family member, a good cup of gumbo, an encouraging word from a co-worker, an A on a test, or a big hug from the one you love. These are just a few examples of the simple elements of our lives that pass us by. A simple life of contentment as Paul speaks of in Philippians 4:11-12 brings great joy, satisfaction and healthy perspective.
3. The Gospel
In closing, let us never forget to give thanks to whom thanks is due. God sent His Son Jesus to take on the punishment that we deserved, so that we may have life to the fullest. As we say at Vintage, “We can’t, but he did, and because he did, we can!” Thank you God for being our good Father, helper, sustainer, provider, healer, comforter and redeemer.
Wherever you find yourself today, try something: Stop and give thanks. Start with these three things, but allow the Lord to expand your territory of thanksgiving. This expression of thanksgiving goes far beyond just one day, but it is never too late to begin here.