Thanksgiving Day affords us a wonderful time to express our thanks together as a nation. We have so many things to be thankful for. Some examples include, air to breath, homes to live in, clothes to wear, our health, our gifting and our talents. However, the most important reason to be thankful, not just on Thanksgiving but all of the time, is that we have a God who loves each one of us so deeply and completely and who will not leave any stone unturned to help us see how much He loves us.
Part of God’s Will
So often we want to know what God’s will is regarding our lives. Well 1st Thessalonians 5:18 lets us know one part of His will in definite terms. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
“IN’ Not “FOR”
What we see here is the word “in” not “for”. As Ruth Bell Graham said: We can’t always give thanks FOR everything, but we can always give thanks IN everything.
The NLT Life application gives this reason for why “in” and not “for”: Evil does not come from God, so we should not thank Him for it. But when evil strikes, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good that He will accomplish through the distress.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”[ James 1:13 Berean Study Bible.] In fact, the same chapter of James tells us why we can be tempted: “14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
When we are being tempted we can come to God and ask Him for His help. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8 28]
James 1:12 – “ Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
It’s Tough To Be Thankful
While reading for this topic I found the following comment: “Researchers have proven what most parents probably knew instinctively: gratitude doesn’t come naturally. In her book entitled The Gift of Thanks, Margaret Visser cites a study which observed how parents teach their children to say “hi,” “thanks,” and good-bye.” The children in the study spontaneously said “hi” 27 percent of the time, “good-bye” 25 percent of the time, and “thanks” 7 percent of the time. Parents had to prompt their children to say “hi” 28 percent of the time, “good-bye” 33 percent of the time, and “thanks” 51 percent of the time.
In conclusion, children had a much more difficult time learning to say “thanks.” Most children have to learn to say “thank you” even before they know what it means. Visser states, “Eventually, when [children] have matured and been further educated, they will come to be able to feel the emotion that the words express. The words come first, the feelings later.” Perhaps this applies to adults too!
Based on this research Visser concludes that learning to be thankful involves a steep learning curve. She writes, “In our culture thanksgiving is believed to be, for most children, the very last of basic social graces they acquire.””
As Christians we know that thankfulness should be one of our defining traits. It is something that we can have naturally once Christ begins to live His life through us.
A Psalm of Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)
This psalm contains Four key words that give us a great description of the essence of thanksgiving. I decided to state thankfulness in two different ways to give each verse it’s own word.
.1. Joy – We should be excited about who God is and what He has and can do for us.
James tells us, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. [James 1:3-4]
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” [Nehemiah 8:10]
Jesus has won the war – we are developing His character and will live in eternity with Him do I need to say more. Let’s rejoice with great joy.
.2. Gladness – We can serve the Lord with gladness because we serve a living Lord. We know that Jesus can help us with everything that comes our way. As we saw above, He wants to take everything that happens in our lives and work it out to a good conclusion for us.
.3. Dependence – God is God and we are not. He has created us and He knows exactly what we need in every situation of our lives. And if we ask, He will provide for us. “The Lord is my shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT.” [Psalm 23:1]
.4. Thankful — Thanksgiving is what flows out of a thankful HEART. In Luke chapter 17 we read the story about the 10 lepers. These lepers yelled out to Jesus and asked Him to have mercy on them. And, Jesus did extend His mercy to them – “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” When they first left Jesus they were not healed, their healing took place while they were on their journey to the priests. All ten were healed. But only one of them came back to say thank you to Jesus. Jesus makes a point of saying “wasn’t there 10 of you?” Highlighting our need to be thankful for all that He does for us.
.5. Gratitude (this also means thankful). Psalm 100 Verse 5 gives us some really good reasons why thankfulness should flow out of us as a way of life. God is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures for all generations. How can we not be thankful when we see all that God can, has and will do?
“Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.” Romans 11:36 (MSG)
How Important Is Thankfulness Towards God?
Let’s See How Often References Are Made To Him In this Passage
From this section of scripture, we see that having our focus on God helps us to remain thankful. When we look at our circumstances or at what we don’t have we tend to fall into ingratitude.
So let’s become people who are thankful at all times IN every circumstance. Let’s learn to trust God and ask Him to show us how to be thankful.