How many times have you wished your life away? If I could just get through this day? If I could just get through this week? If I could just make it to Christmas break? There are so many times in our lives that we just are not thankful for the day even when we know we should be. It is difficult to rejoice when we get stressed, overwhelmed, and depressed. I believe when Paul wrote his letters to the many epistles in the early church, that he knew of the different struggle that people were facing and that is why he encouraged the body of Christ to look at the bigger picture. Here below is an example of this in Paul’s letter to the Church in Phillipi:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul wanted to remind them and us to find joy in the Lord regardless of our circumstances. In a way, he was saying instead of looking at things with resentment, put on the lens of the forgiven and see all things as a blessing. It is important for us to see life, even difficult things, with a new perspective because when we choose thankfulness over anxiety and resentment, we will find peace in all things.
As I mentioned before Paul speaks of this mindset in many of his epistles and we see a similar teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
As we look at the wording here, you see a similar message of rejoicing in all things. However, I believe it is important to point out that he does not say we must give thanks for all circumstances. There are going to be things you go through that it is not necessary for us to give thanks for. It would be understandable that you don’t want to give thanks for being sick or when you lose someone you love. That is why I believe Paul intentionally says, “to give thanks in all circumstances.” This means in the midst of our storms we can still be thankful for Jesus, for the inheritance that he has promised us, for the grace and mercy of the father, and God’s unchanging character.
It is often about the lens that we see things and making sure we are looking through the lens of eternity rather than seasonal. When we focus on what we have been given by the Lord, it makes giving to others a part of we are. It reminds me of a preacher story I heard once:
The preacher Dr. George W. Truett accepted an invitation from a church to preach the dedication sermon for their new building. He arrived at the church about ten minutes before the service started, and was told that the church needed to raise $6,500 by the next day in order to finish paying for the building. The church officers told him that they were depending on him to raise the money. Dr. Truett preached the sermon then said, “These men bid me to tell you that you must give $6,500 in cash, which is all due tomorrow. Will you provide it?” After Dr. Truett’s appeal, began the slowest, most reluctant, most Christ-shaming offering he had ever witnessed. After thirty minutes they had $3,000—not even half of what they needed. Dr. Truett said, “What do you expect of me? I am your guest. I do not happen to have the other $3,500. What do you expect of me?”
A little woman rose and addressed her husband who was at the front of the church recording what was given. With pathos in her voice she said, “Charley, I have wondered if you would be willing for us to give our little cottage just paid out of debt. We were offered $3,500 in cash for it yesterday. We were told we could get it at the bank any time in ten days, if we chose to make the trade. “Charley, I have wondered if you would be willing for us to give our little house to Christ, that His house may be free. When we remember, Charley, that Christ gave His life for us, I wonder if we ought not to give this little house to Him.” Charlie responded in the same spirit, “Jennie, dear, I was thinking of the same thing. We will give $3,500.”
Silence reigned for a minute and then grown men began sobbing, and almost in a moment that $3,500 was given by men and women who for the last half hour had either refused to give or had given grudgingly. Many visitors had come for the special service, and before an invitation was given men and women came down every aisle in the church wanting to be saved. The gratefulness of that one couple for what the Lord had done for them and their desire to give to Him prompted others to give and many to get saved.
Give thanks for what the Lord has done for you and what you will find is that the more you give, the more you shall receive. Perhaps not in monetary things, but in peace, happiness, and joy. It is easy to forget about all the things we have to be thankful for and in those seasons we often find ourselves in depression and discontent. There is a reason God has called us to be thankful because we have something to be thankful about. Don’t forget that in your daily walk as your joy and peace that comes from being thankful will be infectious to those around you. Isn’t that our calling, to share the hope that comes in our savior Jesus Christ? To be effective in doing this not only this season but year round, let us have a thankful heart!!
By: Jonathan Carmack