This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. It will likely be a holiday that we won’t soon forget as all of the restrictions of the pandemic continue to restrain us from our normal gatherings and activities. In fact, some of us may have a hard time thinking of what there is to give thanks for! And yet an attitude of thanksgiving or thankfulness is one that ought to be the normal, everyday countenance of those of us whose hope is in Jesus Christ. If we are having trouble being thankful in these strange, discouraging, and uneasy times, then we might need to remember the things we should be thankful for.
First Thessalonians 5:16–18 hit me right between the eyes in recent days. No doubt most of you are like me in that there have likely been hard things in your life recently—disappointments, heartaches, injuries, fears, loss of jobs, health challenges, loss of loved ones, persecutions, discouragements of all kinds. How can we be thankful for anything in the midst of all that? This is why we must daily be reading and meditating on the Word of God. It is His truth that will see us through any challenge or trouble we face. His promises, and His exhortations and commandments, are always true and always good. First Thessalonians 5:16–18 is the antidote to moping or anger or disillusionment.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
These three verses are packed with profound truths that will lead to a heart of thanksgiving. Here are five observations:
- We are to “rejoice always.” That is, we are to be happy in the Lord at all times—not just some of the time or just when things are going well, but always!
- How do we rejoice always? We do it by praying without ceasing. This is having the constant mindset of talking with the Lord throughout the day—not just during our devotions, or before meals, or at bedtime—but at all times throughout the day.
- What then do we pray throughout the day? We give thanks to God! This is a discipline that can change your life. Thinking of all the things that you can and should thank God for will slowly grant you a heart that is filled with gratitude and thankfulness for God’s goodness and mercy in all of your life—big things and small things!
- And we are to give thanks “in all circumstances.” This is huge. Our circumstances need not and should not dictate our state of thankfulness. Rather, our attitude of thanksgiving can transcend and even overcome our circumstances.
- Why should we pursue this attitude? Besides the obvious answer that it will make us happier and more satisfied in life, verse 18 reveals that this is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is precisely what God wants us to do because it gives Him glory when we thank Him for His good gifts to us—even when our circumstances don’t seem to justify thanksgiving. It also will give us much joy in the process!
Friends, my prayer for you is that the Lord will grant you an attitude of thanksgiving that transcends your circumstances and fills your soul with delight and satisfaction in Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless you richly this Thanksgiving!
- Please pray for our students, faculty, and staff as we head toward the end of the semester in a couple of weeks. Pray that we’ll be able to finish our courses and programs meeting in person rather than online.
- Please pray for the students who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Pray that they make a quick recovery and that the virus not spread to other students, faculty, or staff.
- Please continue to pray for our school during these extraordinary times. Pray for wisdom and strength as we continue to deal with the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
- And, as always, please keep praying for our school’s finances. While these are indeed uncertain times economically and financially, we know that the Lord is not constrained at all by the conditions we see. He is able to accomplish anything He chooses—no matter what the circumstances. Please pray for a continuing outpouring of His grace and mercy toward our financial needs.