This is the time of year where most people think about the things that they are thankful for. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and many of us will gather with our families and friends and talk about the things we are thankful for. However, there are many of you who don’t feel very thankful this year. Maybe you have lost a loved one, are sick, have a marriage that is in trouble, have someone you love that is sick, are struggling to pay bills, or have some other tragedy going on in your life. How do you express thanksgiving in the hard times?
Ephesians 5:20 tells us that we should give thanks “always and for everything to God.” Hold on. This can’t be serious. Philippians 4:4 tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” Can these verses really be taken seriously? How could this even be possible? These are great verses when things are going well, but they can feel very condemning when things are not going well. Why would God tell me to be thankful and to rejoice in everything and always? There has to be a reason, He is God after all.
I believe that being thankful and rejoicing in all things has the unique ability to give us a new perspective on a situation. It does not fix it or make it go away, but it gives us hope. When we express thankfulness in all things we acknowledge that we are not God and that God is in control. This surrender has a way of diminishing the guilt and fear that can often accompany these difficult times.
Thankfulness is not always easy, but it forces us to look to someone else who is in control and to something else that is a blessing. This is not easy and will not fix your problems, but I believe that thankfulness and thanksgiving have tremendous ability to help us make it through the most difficult times. Trust that God knows what He is telling us to do in these verses. Let us all try to find a way to express thanksgiving in all of our circumstances and watch as God gives us hope and a perseverance to struggle through it.