These past few days many of us were with friends or family and had much to be thankful for. But for some, it was a difficult day. Health issues. Loss of loved ones. Loneliness. Dashed or deferred dreams. Economic uncertainty. Political unrest. For these, it was very, very tough to find something to be thankful for, for the thankful basket was empty, or if not empty, then severely depleted.
Yet Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (Emphasis mine)
This command is just one of the many paradoxes of the Christian faith––just like one must give to receive, be a slave to be free, serve to lead, or yield to conquer.
It makes no sense to a world where status is gained through power or persuasion, and freedom through independence, but then God did turn the wisdom of the world on its head. He told us that we would find rest through taking up his yoke and burden (Matthew 11:29) and that what the world considered foolish and weak would “shame the wise . . . and the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
So even in times of uncertainty, loneliness, unrest, loss, and disappointment . . . all products of our fallen world . . . we still have reasons to be thankful.
First, “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).
We also know that even though our circumstances will shift and shake beneath us, God does not. He “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17) and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Third, we can “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).
But probably the greatest reason to be thankful is because of the season that began yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving. . . Christmas . . . the season which reminds us again and again that . . .
“. . . God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).