Today is Thanksgiving and with all holidays, for some folks today brings joy and anticipation (can you say cranberry sauce and stuffing? Football? Seeing family, throwing around little nephews, and perhaps even a nap?) and for others it brings none of those things in parenthesis and maybe even sadness and despair.
Yet…God’s Word instructs us to be thankful always. Always. #Ow.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 ESV)
How important is it to be thankful?
Erwin Lutzer writes that “Giving thanks changes everything…in fact, thanksgiving is a game changer.” Why? He provides two reasons:
- Being thankful honors God by reaffirming his sovereignty. When we thank him in all things, we admit that he is really and truly in control of all things. Yes, even the bad stuff, and he is able to redeem and restore by the power of the gospel.
- Being thankful changes us. It builds faith in our hearts; the weight of our burdens are God’s not ours. It gives us a new perspective, if frees us to see difficulties as a part of a larger purpose. It also frees us up to worship God, and reminds us of his goodness, love, and providence.
To echo Lutzer’s last point – thankfulness to God gets our eyes off of ourselves and onto God. In this world we will all have hardship, but even in those times the answer is not to be full of self-pity and self-focus, but to cast our gaze outside of ourselves to the one who is able to redeem and restore all for his glory and our good.
In thankfulness, we make a conscious decision to thank God for all he has done for us in Christ – we take an axe to the root of unbelief that God isn’t truly good, or he isn’t truly for us, or truly not in control…and we find the strength to climb out of whatever hole we are in, and kill sin and it’s temptations with the grace of the gospel.