By: Gail Armatys, HeartSong Life Coach
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It’s appropriate. Today is Thanksgiving. The day to give thanks.
It’s my favorite holiday of the year. The cool temperatures, fall decorations, (Like my turkey. Actually, I’m not sure what a metal turkey filled with fake lemons on the mantel really has to do with giving thanks, but I go with it every year.)
Forgive me, I digress…
…colorful leaves on the ground, the smell of turkey in the air and my favorite site – our grown boys at work together in the kitchen baking a pumpkin pie! In this family everyone contributes.
Soon our daughter and hubby will be here with their special recipe. Yum! Then, as always, the football games will pause briefly as we listen to ‘Alice’s Restaurant’, and finally sit at the table ready to gobble (couldn’t resist that word) down all of our mouth-watering work.
But before we start passing dishes one way or the other – or both – we share what we are thankful for and pray. In the end, thanking God for all of his blessings and abundance. (Ah, Abundance! Enter the metal turkey and lemons!)
This is probably a scene that’s familiar to you – and likely to millions of families across the nation. It’s a wonderful day set aside specifically to give thanks.
But, what about the rest of our days? And what about those 3 words in the Thessalonians scripture we just read?
…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God. 1 Thess. 5:18
When All Equals Everything
I know what you are saying as you read this. It hits me hard as well.
All? As in e – v – e – r – y – t – h – i – n – g?
Really God? Everything? For the pumpkin pie, the warm fire, the chance to shop on Black Friday – or now even Thank-filled Thursday – a resounding, YES! For puppies, babies, and hugs. YES! For my salvation…YES! But for heartache, cancer, loss, pain, sorrow? Really? Thankful?
Let’s say I get beyond this ‘all equals everything’ piece. I’m not sure the next phrase of the sentence makes me feel any better.
…for this is the will of God.
God’s Will Revealed
God’s will? What is God’s will for my life? Sometimes we just can’t figure it out, especially during the hard times.
The best place to begin looking is in scripture. There are verses that reveal, simply and directly, God’s will for our lives.
1 Thess. 5:18 is one of these verses. Read it one more time.
…give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God.
Why give thanks in all situations when all we really want to do about some things is be angry, unforgiving, hurt, or just roll up into a ball and die?
Perhaps the following 2 reasons from scripture will help.
- The trial is for our good. (Thanks a lot for the reminder, Gail. I feel better now. Ugh.)
‘And we know, that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28
I guess that’s where parents get the idea to say, ‘It’s for your own good’, to their kids. I don’t remember actually speaking those words myself, but I do know the motive for the parentally imposed restriction or hardship was for exactly that reason – their own good.
There is a lesson in the trial and a chance to grow. Not only that, there is the opportunity for an expression of love – God’s love, his goodness amidst the challenge.
Have you ever tried to give a hug to a defiant child that is stiff as a board? Kind of difficult. But what happens when the child is hurting, curled up, wanting comfort? Easy peazy.
Could it be that as we bend our knee in despair and thanksgiving while enduring a painful trial he is then able to hold us closer – because we finally let him?
- So that we can comfort others.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor.1: 3-4
That’s a lot of comfort going on there! And who but God could start such a flow of love?
Sometimes I forget that it’s not just me that needs attention. I was taken aback when I realized for the first time what John 3:16 was really saying. You know, ‘God so loved the world…’ he meant not just my little corner of the world. He means the entire human existence that makes up the world!
Look around campus, a mall or airport sometime. It amazes me as I notice the different types, shades, sizes, and shapes of faces and realize that God loves each one of them just as much as he loves me. It really is difficult to fathom because we don’t do it. But they, too, were made in his image.
Not only that, everyone of these someones at the mall and airport and on campus need comforting at some time in their lives – just as I have needed it. And just as I have received comfort, God will comfort them through me…and you as well. How?
By his example: “he comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble…” 2 Cor. 1:4
Thanking God in all circumstances is God’s will for my life.
For my good.
That I may receive love and comfort from him and share it with others.
So, it is right and good that I thank God for things big and small. Easy and difficult. Happy and sad. A day at a time. This day. Thanksgiving Day. And every day.
Now, please pardon me as I eat my pie.
Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!
- Make it a point this week to remember to thank God for your blessings and for the good he promises to work in your trials.
- Look for someone near you each day this week that could use a word of comfort or a loving hug.
- Write your own special prayer of thanksgiving today.
Thank you, God, for the sunshine and the rain. For being with me. For comforting me when I need it most and waiting for me when I pull away. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you that I can learn and grow, and for the chance to share your love and compassion with others. Thank you for this country, our troops and their sacrifice, our friends, and our families…and pumpkin pie. But mostly, thank you for Jesus.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Listen to Your HeartSong Here!
I Just Want to Thank You Lord
Live the song written on your heart