"In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18
With the holiday season quickly approaching, Thanksgiving is here. The historical facts of this celebration was begun by the Pilgrims and neighboring Indians in 1621 with sharing a meal from their first crops in the new land. With only half of the pilgrims surviving the journey to American, then landing on the East Coast in the middle of winter with limited supplies and contagious diseases abounding—these survivors had much to be thankful for. It was a 3-day celebration with their friends, including food, fellowship, entertainment and prayer. There was no pumpkin pie, mash potatoes, turkey, football or researching Black Friday Specials, but a profound sense of gratitude and unity for God’s purpose and provision. Thanksgiving, however, was not an annual event within the colonies, nor did it become a permanent national holiday until some 200 years later when declared so in the midst of the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln.
When you open God’s word you find the word thanksgiving or the inference of such, many times in the scripture. It first starts in Leviticus as one of the designated sacrifices prescribed by God’s instruction. The last time it is seen in scripture is Revelation 7:12, “Amen. Blessings and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.” So while the first reference was a sacrifice and the last was worship of our King, many of the verses between are instruction of living a life of gratitude, giving thanks always. God is not talking of a one-day festive holiday where we focus on our blessings, but where every single day results in Thanksgiving.
Apostle Paul seems to have thanksgiving as a noted theme. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Philippians 4:6 the word “in everything” give thanks, is the challenge. It is an easy thing to be thankful for all the wonderful things God has done for you. However, there are days that you feel you are in dark tunnel and if you do see a bright light at the end of it, it is train coming right toward you. There are bad things that come our way. Pain beyond our comprehension has found our address. Where does thanksgiving fit?
When Apostle Paul addressed thanksgiving in our hearts, nearly every time there was a precursor that made thanksgiving possible—and that was prayer, making your request known to God. When you pour out your heart to God, as His child you know you have a listening ear and powerful ally. Because Jesus was willing to die for you, He has made it possible for you to live for Him. That’s a comfort! The more time you spend pouring out your anguish, hurt, confusion, ....the more room He has to fill you with Himself. As you keep praying after you have emptied yourself....He is all that is left and that in itself is enough to have thanksgiving every day of the year. Jesus may not be the only thing we want, but truly His sufficiency is more than enough. The more time you pray and focus on who He is and His greatness, gives you less time to try and figure out your circumstances, and abide in the assurance His care with a grateful heart.
Next time your attitude of gratitude is challenged, remember prayer changes things and most often it will change you. What a plan for Thanksgiving everyday.
Pastor Ruth Kaunley