Thankfulness

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”—–Psalm 100

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”—–1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Around this time each year, people often reflect on all the things they are thankful for in their lives.  For non-believers it is a time of being thankful for things like family, jobs, and the comforts in life.  For believers, it is a reminder of the blessings that the Lord has given us; and even more the sacrifice that Jesus made for each one of us.

I always find it interesting how “being thankful” comes out for a short period and then seemingly goes away soon after the holidays.  It doesn’t matter if it is non-believers or believers, both seem to have an attitude of gratefulness, but then it goes back to life as usual.  But as believers, having an attitude of thankfulness should always be in the forefront of our minds each day and not just a few times a year.

There is so much to be thankful for in our lives.  And being thankful not just for the stuff we accumulate or the comforts we enjoy in life, but simply that God has loved us and we arise each day to honor and serve Him.  Whether things are seemingly going well or we are going through difficult times, God is good and has blessed us in so many ways.  The least we can do as we go throughout each day of our lives in giving thanks to our Lord and Savior.

It is always easier to have praise for the Lord when things are going well, but more difficult to continue to praise Him when challenges come our way.  And during the holidays, it can be a difficult time for people that are going through struggles to try and be hopeful, optimistic, or even thankful because circumstances can often times overshadow any joy that can be found.  But as in 1 Thessalonians 5, it is a good reminder that although there may be very challenging times we may encounter, we are to always give thanks in “everything”.  God knows our needs, our joys, as well as our pain.  And if God knows these things, it is easier to trust and know that whatever He allows for our lives is to help us grow deeper in our faith and an opportunity to be good examples of what it means to be a follower of His.

So rather than being tossed between the things we may see as good or bad and only being thankful when things are what we think are good, we must gain a right perspective that whether in good things or difficult things we always continue to give thanks to the Lord.  In Job 2, Job had essentially everything taken away from him; his earthly things, his children, and even his own health.  Job’s wife even sought to tempt him where it says in Job 2:9-10, “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die!’  But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  In other words, Job understood that God was good and even though Satan and others sought to derail his faith, he would stand strong and continue to praise the Lord despite his circumstances.

This isn’t to make light of the fact that some things we may encounter are really tough to go through.  This isn’t to simply say, “just put on a happy face”.  Things can be very difficult and we can at times dread each moment.  But it is an encouragement and a challenge that our praise and thankfulness shouldn’t be dependent on our circumstances.  When we take a step back and realize that God is with us and cares for us through all the things we go through, it makes it much more peaceful and hopeful to bear.  Easier said than done, but an encouragement and challenge nonetheless.

So as we again celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, let us not only be thankful these few times a year and based upon what we think is good, but continue to keep our praise to the Lord throughout all the year under all circumstances.  Let us continually give thanks to the Lord each day, submitting to His will, and serving Him.  May the Lord be glorified as we each walk in greater thankfulness throughout our lives.