Thanksgiving comes as a holiday once a year, and that reminds the secular folks to count their blessings. We, as believers, know that thanksgiving is really every day.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This does not mean your particular situation is necessarily God’s will for you. But God’s will is that you give thanks. He wants thankful children. He knows that it’s good for us to give thanks, as opposed to griping and complaining. But how do you give thanks when things are bad?
There is always something to be thankful for, but it’s easier to spot out the things to be upset about. Though it is easier to focus on the wrong, it ultimately hurts us. Being thankful builds us up. Romans 1:21 suggests that our hearts become darkened when we fail to give thanks.
“But I’ve got nothing to be thankful for!” Oh look again! Your situation might be bad, but there is always someone who is worse off. You can find something to be thankful for.
Even if nothing good can be found, you can at least be thankful that this world is temporary, and that we have an eternity of bliss and glory ahead. There will be no more struggles, pain, or sorrows in the age to come.
And here are some other gospel blessings to consider…
Because of Jesus, we can always be thankful for peace. When the angels declared peace on earth (Luke 2:14), they weren’t talking about world peace. The birth of the messiah meant that peace between God and sinners would now be possible. This means God is not angry with you! Because of Jesus, we have peace with God, in spite of our failures and shortcomings. It’s not dependent upon how good we are. The chastisement of our peace was upon him (Isaiah 53:5). This means Jesus paid the price, and you are not paying for your sins. You can claim peace because He purchased it for you. Thus, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
We can be thankful for hope. Jesus is the hope of the world, and we have the hope of His coming kingdom. A Chinese friend watched a film about Jesus with us, and after said, “if only our leaders would all follow what Jesus taught, we would become a greater nation.”
Robin Williams, a comedian who had no hope, recently committed suicide. Who can live without hope? Yet Christians are never without hope. God has promised to bring us through every situation. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3; NKJV). That doesn’t mean that the waters or fires will be enjoyable. They may in fact seem overwhelming. But you will get through them, and you will find yourself in perfect condition in the end. The three young men in the fiery furnace came out not even having their hair singed (Dan.3:27).
Romans 8:28 is a verse that every Christian should have memorized. But it must be correctly applied. It does not state that all things ARE good. Not all things are good! But God works even the bad things out for good to those who love Him. Those outside of Christ have no such hope. You can’t use that verse to minister comfort to an unbeliever. It is only for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
We can be thankful for the Word. Without the Word we would not know the hope. We would not have the promises to hold on to in times of need. We would not have the declarations of God’s goodness toward our lives and the revelation of victory. It is the Word that lights the path for us in darkness (Psalm 119:105). It is the Word that brings the healing (Psalm 107:20), and life to those who find it (Proverbs 4:22). The Word is the conveyor of hope, and faith comes through hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
God’s Will for Us in Christ Jesus
I believe God’s will for us is to keep an attitude of thanksgiving, because He knows that will produce fruit in our lives and health for our bodies. Griping and complaining only brings us down.
Giving thanks thwarts the enemy! Imagine, the devils thinking they have finally got you down. They laugh and mock, awaiting your cry of “woe is me!” Another servant of God rendered useless! But then instead they hear, “Thanks be to God, who gives me the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” The servant has broken through the works of the enemy and has become strengthened in God!
Giving thanks causes us to focus on the goodness of God, and it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance. In other words, you direct your life according to His ways because you are moved by love to do so. When giving thanks, we are basically acknowledging that we are not God, and that we depend on Him.
So be thankful! Resist the temptation to allow your circumstances to dictate your feelings. Don’t wait for a special day once a year, or even once a week. Get into a habit of thanksgiving. It will encourage faith and change your life!