Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – I Thessalonians 5:18
This writing was originally posted back in November, 2014. After listening to my pastor’s message yesterday. He asked “Is your Thanksgiving testable?” How easy it is when everything is going your way, life is grand and you have no worries, doubts, fears, questions, unanswered prayers, etc. Where is the needle on your thanksgiving meter then? Read on as I re-share how my own thanksgiving was put to the test many years ago.
A church sign caught my eye yesterday while the family and I were on our way to church. The sign simply read, “Thanksgiving is good, but Thanksliving is better.” As I pondered on that for the next several miles, I thought, this is so how we ought to live our lives each and every day as believers. It’s so easy when everything is going great and we’re checking out the view from the mountaintop while singing, “How Great Is Our God”, “Mighty To Save” and so many other awesome worship songs in thankfulness to God for who He is, what He’s done and what He’s about to do. But what about the times of testing. Those times that seem to all of a sudden come out of nowhere unexpectedly and hit us like a ton of bricks (or coal). The turbulent times that God allows into our lives to help strengthen us, purify our faith, grow us and ultimately reveal more of who He is in our lives as well as revealing things about ourselves that are displeasing to Him and keep us from becoming all He has destined us to be. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us find it difficult to express our gratitude to God in quite the same manner during these seasons of trials.
Some of you reading this right now are familiar with my accident which happened back in 1994 when my skull was crushed by falling pieces of lignite (coal) where I worked at the time at a Steam Electric Station Power Plant. I had worked at the plant for nearly 14 years, received safety awards, and made a nice living for my family and I. Some of the other Christian brothers and I had just begun our first time of gathering together for Bible Studies the Monday morning prior to the accident. Life was pretty sweet or so I thought it was. When the accident happened, I had no idea of what had taken place. All I know is that is that it didn’t look good in the natural and the doctors didn’t give my wife much hope that I would pull through but God always has the last say until our purpose is fulfilled.
Moving forward a year or so, I began to blame God for what had happened to me. I began to walk through a dark valley questioning my very existence and what my purpose was here on earth. Although, through this difficult time, I truly learned what it means to completely rely on God. My life scripture became Proverbs 3:5,6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” This scripture came more alive than ever to me when I began to totally surrender my “everything” back to God. Not just a few things, not just those things that weren’t that much of a surrender to me but everything. I also truly began to understand what it means as the opening scripture reads, “give thanks in all circumstances”. Notice it doesn’t read to give God thanks for all circumstances but in all circumstances.
The key is to give God thanks in all circumstances of your life. This verse goes on to read that this is God’s will for you, me, us in Christ Jesus. I’ve heard it said that there are three classifications of people. Those that are in the midst of a storm, those that are coming out of a storm and those that are about to go into a storm. If you’re in the midst of the storm right now friend, take comfort in knowing that you have someone that is there with you. Someone who has already traveled through that storm. Someone who has promised to never leave nor forsake you. That someone is the One who created you. The One who knows you better than you know yourself. And finally, the One who has promised to never allow anything into your life that you cannot handle. He will truly see you through to the other side.
A recent study several years ago concluded that Thankful people live longer as opposed to those that are unhappy and seem to always blame someone else for their mistakes and troubles in their lives. As difficult I know as it might be friend, begin to offer God thanks in every circumstance of your life. I have made it a practice several times a day to just lift my hands to the heavens and offer up thanks to God for who He is, all He’s done and all He’s about to do no matter what the circumstance may be at the time. We have so much to truly be thankful for. I do hope as you gather with your families this Thursday that you will take time to reflect on the goodness of God and know that we are truly blessed more than we know.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and may the God of every good & perfect gift flood your heart with His joy and peace this week.