“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” wrote a man who had known more than his fair share of difficulties. His name? We know him as Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ. In one sentence Paul gives us the key to unlocking the door to a relationship of blessedness and gratitude. He is saying in simple terms that thanksgiving is not a holiday to be celebrated but an attitude of your heart to be daily observed because no matter how difficult the circumstances of your life—whether you be in a hospital bed or enjoying health, wealth, and happiness—God is in control.
Thanksgiving didn’t begin with the pilgrims in 1621 when Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and feasting, remembering that God had turned drought to rain that brought a simple harvest. Some 1400 years before, Paul instructed the Thessalonians to be thankful. Jews were instructed to celebrate deliverance from Egypt—a custom still observed in the Feast of the Tabernacle or Sukkot. When the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, Nehemiah instructed the people to stop working and celebrate a season of thanksgiving.
Consistently down through history where there has been celebration and commemoration for a victory or event, there has been feasting and special foods. Yes, the pilgrims had reason to be thankful. The terrible New England winters took the lives of more than half those who made the long journey across a cold, stormy ocean. No wonder they celebrated when they had promise of making it through another winter.
In 1680 the Massachusetts Bay Colony recognized a Day of Thanksgiving, making it official. By 1858, 25 states and two U.S. territories officially recognized a day of thanksgiving, and, since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day, subsequent American Presidents have followed the same pattern.
No matter where you live on planet Earth, every day should be a day of thanksgiving. For what should you be thankful? Don’t limit your gratitude to my list, but may I mention some of the things for which I give thanks.
First, I give thanks for the assurance that I am God’s child, that He has forgiven me and brought me into the Kingdom of His dear Son—not because I deserved it but because of the Father’s great love for me.
Then I am thankful for my family and friends. I must tell you that God has so graciously touched my life with His favor. Yes, I’m thankful not only for His grace that meets me at the point of my weakness, but, honestly, I’m thankful as well for what hasn’t happened.
I also thank God for the bumps in the road, challenges that bring me face to face with my weakness and cause me to cry out for God’s help and provision that comes in such a way, I know He has provided—as opposed to something just happening. I’m convinced that what He has withheld, I haven’t needed, and what He has given me is a stewardship to be used wisely for His work.
I’m thankful that in a world of turmoil, our great God will allow nothing to happen that escapes His attention or ability to prevent. That’s why Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV).
And what of the future? It will arrive just one day at a time, and when tomorrow comes, God’s Son will be there to take my hand and walk through the valley one step at a time. Yes, be thankful, friend. May the sin of ingratitude never be on the “unforgiven” list. Never!
Resource Reading: Psalm 107
Text: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – November 23, 2017