Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and it is a holiday that is designed to give thanks for the harvest of the year’s growing season. Many take the occasion to spend time with family and friends, gathered around a table of food, to typify the bountiful harvest they had that year. And, then as the deepest show of gratitude for what they have, they stampede stores the very next day clawing for a chance to satisfy their lavish wants.
Not only is this celebrated on a secular level, but even on a religious level. Many take the time to be thankful for the blessings of God, however they count them.
One thing that we find in the Apostle Paul’s life is that the giving of thanks wasn’t reserved for one day or one season, but was common place, every day attitude of Paul. Paul was thankful IN all things. Much thanks is given when the times are good, money is in the bank, food is on the table, health is good. But, how much thanks is given when things seem at their bleakest? How often are prayer requests made over concern for some undesirable circumstance rather than praising God and thanking God for who He is and what He has given you by the salvation in His Son?
Would it be possible to give thanks IN ALL things?
2Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
2Corinthians 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
2Corinthians 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
2Corinthians 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
2Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
2Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
2Corinthians 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
2Corinthians 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
Look at all that Paul faced (and, based on how the world worked back then, I would say this is probably even a mild list). But in all of that, Paul says that if he must glory, he will glory in things that concern his infirmities. Why?–because the infirmities he bore were a testimony to the cause of Christ.
2Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
2Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul’s circumstances were not what defined Paul’s destiny nor are they what defined Paul’s reality. He didn’t look to his circumstances and try to figure out a way to get God to get him out of it. He tried that (verse 7 above) and God effectually said, “No” – because His grace is sufficient despite what Paul was facing.
Being thankful shouldn’t be an expression of relief for good circumstances. Being thankful should simply be the continuing flow from our hearts because God has bestowed upon every believer a marvelous salvation that makes our circumstances pale in comparison.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Philippians 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
I believe Paul sets the example of true thanksgiving. Whether conversations around the table are enjoyable or whether it is the annual political debate; whether you have a 20lbs turkey to carve or something small and modest; whether you have a house full or it is just you – give thanks unto God that He, by your simple faith, would count you worthy of being in His household, even a joint-heir with His Son.