"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
-1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
Do you hear that? Christmas music!! And it was on the radio BEFORE Thanksgiving even got here!! Now we have Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, and there are only 28 (?) shopping days until Christmas???
Now just hold on a minute! I'm already exhausted, and I could stand another day of Thanksgiving... What if Thanksgiving were more than just one day?? What if Thanksgiving were every day? Not the turkey and stuffing and pie (well, okay on the pie!) and extended family every day...giving thanks every day... reflecting on all the people and things we are thankful for? Giving thanks where thanks is due, to God, the giver of all good gifts!
The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to "give thanks in all circumstances..." but is he saying we should thank God for our painful circumstances? The way I've always heard it explained, Paul is encouraging the readers to thank God not for but in all circumstances. Surely, God isn't expecting us to say thank you for chronic pain, or a child's illness, or the return of cancer... but I think it helps us, as children of God, to thank him for all he has given us that is wonderful in our lives!
What if every time we felt upset about what was missing from our lives, we immediately started thanking God for all the gifts that we currently enjoy? Even when we experience tragedy, we usually find that God's gifts abound, and sometimes genuine gratitude for those gifts can begin the healing within us. Think about how God has blessed you, as you read the words of this hymn of thanksgiving:
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers' arms, hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in God's grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God, who reigns in highest heaven,
To Father and to Son and Spirit now be given;
The one eternal God, whom heaven and earth adore,
The God who was, and is, and shall be evermore.
And Sunday, when we are ready to begin Advent (to prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas), join us online or in the parking lot for our annual Hanging of the Greens worship service!!