Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)
OK, this is a good verse for Thanksgiving Day—BE THANKFUL! “That’s easy enough for today. I can handle this verse today .” I mean, why not? Today we will get to eat all kinds of wonderful food, so sure, you will be thankful—unless you are the one who has to prepare and cook that food, or because of financial stresses there won’t be much food to prepare or there will be one less person at the table.
“I can be thankful today because there is PLENTY of football to watch! Yeah, I’m thankful” You can be thankful for all the football to watch—unless you’re the one who has to clean up after that Thanksgiving meal, and would love to start decorating the home for Christmas, but can’t get any help because they are watching football!
“Oh, I can be thankful today because of Black Friday—EVERYTHING goes on sale and I can shop for Christmas gifts (and maybe myself)!” Yes, you can be thankful for all those Black Friday Sales—unless you are a sales associate or cashier who has to deal with all those unruly and obnoxious customers!
Am I getting through? Is it clear what I am trying to say? It is this: to be thankful or unthankful all depends on what side of the issue you are looking through. It is easy, at least for me but maybe not for you, to lose the focus that the new life in Christ brings to our daily living. There are many things we can be thankful for (and we certainly should be thankful for them), but those same things can become cause of stress or concern for another—like the Thanksgiving dinner. Who can deny that it is something certainly to be thankful for—but the preparations before and the clean up after the meal can rob us of the spirit of gratitude if our focus is in the wrong place.
Paul reminds us here: “Be thankful in all circumstances…” (italics mine). There are situations and circumstances for which it would practically impossible and unreasonable to be thankful for. So, Paul reminds us to be thankful in all circumstances. This is a bit easier because the emphasis is not on the thing or event, but on The Presence. That first Easter morning, when Mary was left alone by the others in the cemetery, alone in her pain and grief, thinking—believing all was lost, her whole life was transformed by a single word—Mary! (John 20:16) When Jesus spoke her own name to her, the miracle of the Resurrection was transferred to her and she had her own personal Resurrection—all because Jesus called her by HER name. And know that He is still calling each of us—by OUR own name—so that we may know His Presence is real.
So, with all that goes on today, remember there is The Presence of Him who knows us and calls us by name. Listen! Listen carefully! He IS calling to you; His vocal cords are reverberating with your name. Listen, you can hear it. Now, that’s something we can truly give thanks for—the loving God who knows and calls us by name. God is careful to make sure He is with us in every situation and circumstance, regardless if it is good or bad. Remember the words from Psalm 139:1-10 (italics mine)
O Lord, You have looked through me and have known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You understand my thoughts from far away. You look over my path and my lying down. You know all my ways very well. Even before I speak a word, O Lord, You know it all. You have closed me in from behind and in front. And You have laid Your hand upon me. All You know is too great for me. It is too much for me to understand. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are? If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me. (New Living Translation)
So in the midst of the stuff of Thanksgiving Day, take a moment to listen for His voice, saying your name, and you will know that your are in The Presence!
And then Love God with all your heart. Love others the way He loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!