We’ve just finished celebrating Thanksgiving and now are about to begin the Advent Season culminating in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is an extended season of joy and thanksgiving as we remember the amazingly good gifts of the Lord to us. Giving thanks to the Lord in this season usually comes more easily because we are more of conscious of how much we have to be thankful for. But the real test of our faith is being able to genuinely give thanks to the Lord when things aren’t going so well for us.
The question is, should our attitude of thanksgiving to the Lord be framed by or dependent upon our circumstances in life? Are we to be tossed to and fro, both spiritually and emotionally, by the effects of sin and fallenness all around us? The answer, of course, is resoundingly “no!” Scriptures give us no such “loophole” for allowing our joy and thanksgiving to be swallowed up by the hardships of life in this fallen world.
Consider Job who lost almost everything in his life that he valued: his property, his children, and his health. And yet, remarkably, he was able to declare in the face of all this tragedy and pain in his life:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
Or consider the Apostle Paul who endured so many hardships (listed in 2 Corinthians 11:21-29) sometimes to the point of death, and yet he is able to exhort believers to live joy-filled lives full of thanksgiving as here in I Thessalonians 5:16-18;
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
His exhortation for us is to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks at all times and in all circumstances. Why? Because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us! So our rejoicing and our praying and our giving of thanks are not dependent upon our circumstance—otherwise Paul would not have exhorted the Thessalonian believers in this way. This, then, is the radical secret of Christian Hedonism. We can live this way because we know that Christ is vastly superior to everything in the world—both good and bad, easy and hard, pleasurable and painful. And when we are in Christ, our hope is sure for He will never let go of us.
So, in this season of thanksgiving and celebration, keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your trust wholly in Him. He will never leave you or forsake you and He is the vastly superior treasure to everything else in life.
May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you great joy and satisfaction in Him,
- Please keep our students in your prayers. The semester is drawing to a close and the pressure on them mounts as assignments and exams are looming. Pray that they would finish well and learn much in the process.
- Also, please keep our Self-Study writing project in your prayers as well. We are nearing completion of the first draft and now begins the rather large task of editing and assembling the many and various pieces which must fit together as a coherent whole.
- Please pray for some of the health challenges being faced by some of our faculty and staff members. Pray for the Lord’s healing and for grace as families deal with these challenges.
- And, as always, continue to pray for our finances. As you well know, December is the most important month of the year with regard to financial contributions. Pray that the Lord would pour out His abundant grace and mercies upon us through the generous giving of our growing family of supporters and partners.