While I am in the process of resetting our morning devotion theme following “100% Jesus”, allow me to offer these special Thanksgiving thoughts for tomorrow’s celebration…
It seems the older I get the bigger my bucket of caveats grows in regards to the spirit of thanksgiving the Bible teaches. In his letter to the Thessalonian church Paul wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we hear these words we instinctively feel obligated to acknowledge, “We know this verse is difficult for those who have lost loved ones, experienced a broken relationship, suffered a physical, financial or emotional meltdown, or sinned in a way that has left them depressed or disgraced.”
We certainly need to be sensitive to those who are suffering in these ways. And we need to understand while we are counting our blessings others might be calculating how much has been taken from them. However, I think it is important that we not sell others short when it comes to thanksgiving. I have discovered some of the most thankful people in the world are the very ones I am afraid of hurting with my praise. In fact, my failure to account for their praise in the midst of dire circumstances does them a disservice.
In the past few days I have experienced the following: 1) a man whose son-in-law just had his leg and hip removed to stop the ravages of cancer, who tells me his son-in-law feels blessed, 2) a young woman who feels so blessed she wants to donate a kidney to a dying man, and 3) a husband who recently lost his wife who wanted me to know how God is working in his life.
Please don’t misunderstand. The things these individuals have suffered, or are prepared to suffer are not pleasant or easy. They have faced fear, sorrow, anger, disappointment and uncertainty. If you are going through an unfortunate trial of your own, don’t feel inadequate in your faith if you can’t fully identify with their thoughts at the moment.
I am merely saying I have a lot to learn from people who have successfully navigated the shadows of trouble and emerged with their eyes wide open to the goodness and mercy of God. They inspire me. They shame me. They convict me.
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” Paul’s words are more than a mantra to keep our minds focused when life goes wrong. They reflect a raw trust in an omniscient and omnipotent God whose wisdom and power are greater than our finite perspective. Giving thanks in all circumstances doesn’t mean we have resolved every conflict and answered every doubt. Rather, it shows we have learned to look for God’s providential hand in everything. His work in our lives, especially when we are at our worst, proves he never leaves or forsakes us.
I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving and experience the grace and joy of a Heavenly Father who comforts us with love that transcends the world. I pray you know Him with an anchor so deep and a tower so high the Deceiver runs for cover. Give thanks!
Larry, LOVED your post and your article in the Daily Press. Keep on writing and preaching–God is using you and your ministry in powerful ways!