Christians know this directive – “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV) I know it, too. Does that mean we must attempt to exist in a world of unrelenting positivity, ignoring the hardships and problems of this world? That question creates a false choice – that we can either be realistic or we can be thankful. I am convinced that the deepest gratitude grows from knowing the reality in which we live and seeing our needs matched by God’s provision!
Are you struggling to be truly thankful this year? I hope this CWTW will encourage you today.
Let me give you a look at my process as I choose to be a realistic giver of thanks.
I know that energy prices are rising
but I am grateful that there is fuel for my car and heat in my home.
I know that I am growing older in body
but I am thankful for the wisdom that accompanies my experience in life.
I know that the nation in which I live is divided
but I am thankful that for the freedom to express my opinion and vote my conscience.
I know grief that is lasting after the death of my wife 6 years ago
but I am thankful for the 40 years we shared and the promise of eternal life in Christ.
I know that I am a flawed and failing person
but I am grateful that there is a Flawless Savior Whose grace is deep and wide on my behalf.
So, what’s your ‘reality?’
Will you include a longer and higher view than what you can see in the moment?
I have said it before but the point bears making again. The joy that a Christian can experience is different than happiness. Who does not like being happy, which ‘happens’ (see the connection?) when the sun shines, when resources are abundant, when things are going well for us? But, even in the lives of good Christians the rainy days will come, relationships will get strained, unanticipated expenses will empty the bank account, the doctor will tell us that our health is threatened. In those moments, we can remain joyful in hope. Oh yes, we realistically understand life’s challenges and develop strategies to deal with them even as we lean on the Lord in faith. The wisdom of the Word gives us this assurance – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT) He is there, at work, for our good. Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!
Match your problems with prayers. Make your prayer than those desperate kind of pleas – “Oh get me out this situation, God, now.” Instead pray in worship, of deep surrender. Choose silence. Meditate on His love. “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. ” (Philippians 4:7, The Message)
Tomorrow do not settle for an inauthentic kind of Thanksgiving. Don’t just do ‘happy talk’ that is unmatched by inner joy. Be a realistic giver of thanks.
The word from the Word points to praise. May the Spirit make it our song.
“Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:4-5, NLT)
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” (Psalm 30:11-12, NLT)
Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee (Ode To Joy)
(Carrie Underwood sings)
Joyful joyful we adore Thee
God of glory Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day
All Thy works with joy surround Thee
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays
Stars and angels sing around Thee
Center of unbroken praise
Field and forest vale and mountain
Flowery meadow flashing sea
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee
Mortals join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began
Father love is reigning o’er us
Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife
Joyful music lifts us Sonward
In the triumph song of life
Edward Hodges | Henry Van Dyke | Ludwig van Beethoven
© Words: Public Domain