“… in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”
We all know that we have plenty to be thankful for. From the very basic things, like food, and clothing, through bigger things like family and friends, even up to the privilege of living in a nation with good roads, free education and health services, and so forth. We should be thankful to the Lord for all this.
But of course, there is much more to be thankful for when we think spiritually. As the hymn writer John Kent wrote:
On such love, my soul, still ponder —
Love so great, so rich and free;
Say, while lost in holy wonder, —
‘Why, O Lord, such love to me?’
The love of Jesus Christ to His people is just extraordinary. We can never be thankful enough that the King of Kings should come from eternal glory into this world of sin and shame to save us from our rebellion against Him, even though by nature we were His enemies. Then we think that not only has He come, but that He has come for us. It is mind–blowing. We ask ‘Why Lord – Why such love to someone like me?’ and we are filled again with thankfulness.
This letter is written for release on the day when we come together as a church to celebrate Josh’s baptism. We are giving God thanks for His grace and mercy to Josh. Perhaps it is relatively easy to give thanks on a day like today. But the Apostle Paul gives us direction that we should give thanks ‘in everything’. Not just on the happy days, nor just in the good times, but every day, and in every situation. So, we should be giving thanks when we are sick, when we are poor, when we are are sorrowful, or when we are afraid. But how is this possible?
The answer lies in reversing the way we think about what we are thankful for. Instead of working up from the ‘smaller things’, start with the biggest things. Start with Christ’s love for you and His atoning death on your behalf. Think of the lifting of your burden of sin. Think of the securing of eternal life. Think of the indwelling and work of the Holy Spirit. Think of that true and inexplicable joy and peace which God alone can provide. Place the events of your earthly life in an eternal perspective. Sometimes it is very hard to give thanks, and all you want to do is moan. But persevere — thankfulness brings glory to God, and will lift your spirits and guard you against cynicism, coldness and jealousy of others. As you seek to honour God in thankfulness, no matter how hard your situation, He will in turn bless you, and help you even in your thanksgiving. May God bless you all.