Thanksgiving is over and Christmas approaches. It really is a wonderful time of year full of lights, activities, family, and celebration for most of us. But I truly wish we could hang on to thanksgiving a little longer. Not the holiday, but the action. it seems that it is so much easier to point out what is wrong than it is to appreciate what is right.
In fact, Scripture encourages us to not only give thanks for the good things, but to give thanks in all things. Is that even possible? It certainly is not if we don’t have an understanding of who God is and how He works. We define good things as the happenings and circumstances that make us happy or benefit us in some tangible way. Anything that seems difficult, ranging from inconvenient to truly heart-breaking, is filed under the heading “bad things”.
Disappointment, neglect, misunderstanding, hurtful words, injury, sickness, loss, demotion, abandonment, these are all results of fallen life in a fallen world. None of them feel good or seem to hold any blessing for us. Many are the consequences of outright sin, whether someone else’s or our own. Yet we all live with them. And Jesus instructs us to give thanks in all things.
How do we do that in a sincere way? How do we not just say the words while we roll our eyes? How do we give thanks in the midst of all that is broken?
We start by being still for just a little while. Take the moment. Remember His great love for you, for me, for the person who has made you so angry or hurt you so much. Let His heart and His Spirit remind you that He’s still working on you and sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes He must use a hard thing to shape us into His image, but He never leaves us alone in the process, and pain is never without purpose.
We can look at what is broken and give thanks for the shards lying on the floor. We can see the person who has hurt us or made us angry with the eyes of Jesus and realize they have their own hurts that He would have us minister to. We can see that he not only walks us through the valley, but may have given us at least one other person to walk beside. We can recognize that anything that brings us to our knees before Him has been a blessing simply for that reason.
His own life was full of misunderstanding, ridicule, and finally the cross. There was little that was bright or lovely, much that we would call ugly and wrong. Yet in His wisdom and purposes, His life, death, and resurrection were far beyond beautiful and good. They are life itself. They are life eternal for all who will come to Him in repentance and faith. If life can come from death, then we can know that in all things there is grace if we will see it.
Some things will never make sense. Some losses will never be recovered. Some pains will always hurt. But when we can stop and know how greatly He loves us, we can trust that even the most difficult steps already hold His footprints. We can begin to see with His eyes, walk by His side, and be thankful in every circumstance. Let’s help and remind each other that all things come through His hands and hold grace and blessing for us if we will trust Him. And let’s give thanks.
Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 100:4-5; Psalm 116:17;
John 1:16; Romans 5:1-2