Give Thanks in All Things

Written by Sherri Bergmann.

Thanksgiving. There are two aspects to this. You thank God, or another, for giving to you. You’re appreciative, grateful and thus, you want to give back. It's word and action.

GIVING THANKS TO GOD FOR THE GOOD
God is big on gratitude. The Bible has much to say about saying thanks to Him and others. It’s easy for us to express appreciation to those who are good to us, to thank God for our blessings and the good things He’s done and provides for us. Giving thanks for the good is a good thing to do, but it is not all we are called to do.

GIVING THANKS TO GOD FOR THE CHALLENGES
What if we don’t see blessings in our life? What if we're experiencing hard and challenging times that leave us feeling empty and tempted to turn way from Him?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 calls us to "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 

This is a hard quest for most of us. It is hard to give thanks to God for the hard circumstances we find ourselves in. Yet Paul did. In the depths of the dungeon, in the stench of the worst part of prison, under the heaviest watch of guards... Paul sang and praised God. Even in chains, he reflected Christ and loved others. How was Paul able to rise above his afflictions and be thankful? He believed and rested in the promises of of who God is and what He did for us. Being filled with Christ alone helped him endure with thanksgiving. His unexpected attitude in prison and willingness to risk his life for Christ proved that Christ indeed was who He said he was. What a testimony to those watching!

PAUL'S TRUE THANKSGIVING
Not long before Paul was in prison, he had originally killed people that believed in Christ. When he met Christ on the road to Damascus and learned who Jesus really was, Paul was humbled to learn the truth and the sacrifice Jesus made to save him. His response was gratitude for the gift of salvation and demonstrated this by giving his whole life to Christ. Paul understood what God gave to him, and responded with gratitude by giving back (word and action). He was willing to serve Him and share the truth with others, even to the point of death.

Paul didn’t care how dangerous his life was. He was not afraid of death because he knew where he was going and was faithfully committed to his mission on earth until his time came. "But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” —Philippians 1:23-24

Paul knew Christ could help him overcome any difficult situation he was in. Paul knew that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Paul stood on the sturdy foundation of who God and on the promise of salvation, so unstable and shifting circumstances did not shake him. Regardless of how tough life was, Paul gave thanks to God in every circumstance He was in and encouraged others to do so.

HOW DO YOU THANK GOD?
Gratitude is a response to what Jesus did for you. You've been given to, so say thank you and give back (word and action). Show your gratitude by living your life for Him and following Christ’s two greatest commandments in Matthew 22:37-39: Love Him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love others.  

GIVING THANKS TO OTHERS

Gratitude spurs us on and motivates us to give to others, too. Your word, a simple "thank you," goes a long way, but let's take it a step further like Paul. The action of giving our time is a way to demonstrate gratitude and spread God's love and hope to others. Some of the most valuable gifts we can give in the spirit of thanksgiving are not man-made nor of monetary value. Giving another our time, an ear to listen, our counsel when asked, help when it is needed— these simple acts of love can have the most profound impact.

Carving time out of our busy schedules to spend with another is why people gather for the holidays. Even for relatives who cannot stand each other, there is something deep rooted inside that compels us to be willing to sit together at the same table. Some travel across the country or even the world. That deep root is love. When you love, you show up. You’re thankful for something in particular or for someone, and want to share that by giving your time.

WHY GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES?
Because this is God’s will for us.

Whether we are in the midst of a mess we created on our own, or if we had no control over it, remain in Him and He will get you through it. And with that trust and hope in Him, we can have real peace and rest in the promise of salvation. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  These are truths we can always be thankful for because circumstance cannot change them.

It’s not just in difficult times that some forget to be thankful. Sometimes our tendency is to stop praying or thanking Him when things are going really well. When we are so blessed, or achieved a lifelong dream or goal, or our business makes us super wealthy, we think we don’t need Him and that we alone made it all happen. Sometimes we forget who He is and who makes all things possible. But remember, Luke 1:52 warns that He can bring rulers down from their thrones, and that he will exact the humble. Continuing to thank Him for the good helps keep us humble, and protects us from pride and the danger of forgetting that all good things come from Him.

We have been given much. So give thanks in all circumstances. Always.

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