At Thanksgiving, we can be more anxious than thankful. Cooking the turkey just right, traveling in congested traffic, or visiting challenging relatives can send our stress meter to high.
At Thanksgiving, we can be more sad than thankful. Grieving someone we lost this year, missing a broken relationship, or mourning over tragic events can turn our hearts gray.
At Thanksgiving, we can be a lot more things than thankful: focused on the shopping list for Black Friday, jealous at the success of others, bored by the people around us.
And perhaps for good reason. Maybe Uncle Harry does drone on about his “exhilarating” stamp collection. Maybe your brother-in-law does brag about his stellar sales year and his new car. Maybe life has fallen apart in your town, maybe you’re missing someone you love.
And now on this holiday, you’re supposed to give thanks. Thanks for what? Schmucks who made a lot of money this year? Losing someone who mattered to you? Crisis in your neighborhood? How can you possibly give thanks?
But the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.17)
I know, not the easiest command for some of us. I agree. But easy or not, God still asks this of us. And not just at Thanksgiving, but all the time.
He says to love Him with all our hearts, and give thanks in all things. He says to feed the poor, and give thanks in all things. He says to fear not, and give thanks in all things. Think of all the commands you’re confident of, and add “give thanks in all things.” It’s on the same level as them.
Could it be that we don’t see everything clearly? That we lack the full perspective of God?
Could it be that giving thanks in all things teaches us that God is bigger than our circumstances and more is going on than we think? Could it remind us of our limitedness?
Listen, this is not a fairy tale, ignore the pain, everything’s great, way of looking at life. It’s not living with our eyes shut. Rather, it’s living with our eyes open. Because if we’re in Christ Jesus, then we have a different way of looking at life, and living the life before us.
My grandfather died this year. We were close and I miss him. But I choose to give thanks anyway.
My town is famous for terrible things. News trucks are littered around town. But I choose to give thanks anyway.
My sinfulness is before me. It spoils everything I do. But I choose to give thanks anyway.
Why? Because God promises to bring good out of bad.
My grandfather received Jesus this year.
My town has the opportunity of rebirth.
My sinfulness leads me to God.
Yes, God is bigger than we are. And He knows how to heal us.
For what will you give thanks?