Since this past Thursday was the day of Thanksgiving here in the United States, it seems kind of self-explanatory that this Editorial would in some way be about thankfulness.
I wonder how we embody thankfulness as Christians. This will be different for each of us as God works with us individually! I am curious though about the mindset that we are cultivating. What do we do on a continual basis in regards to being thankful? What do we have in place to make sure that we are giving thanks to God for everything? How often do we think about how important it is to God that we give Him thanks and praise?
Oftentimes, our thoughts are inward and self-pleasing. When this happens, we start to lean on ourselves or others around us, and we start to leave God out of our picture! This is the exact opposite to what God wants! God desires that we depend on Him for everything. When we are constantly looking to Him, we are going to be searching how we can please Him, how we can do things differently and better. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” If we are not in this mindset, then we are in a different mindset.
In a world that is permeated by Satan’s mindset of hate, greed, lust and a general dissatisfaction with life, I wonder how we approach each day and the things that we face. From personal experience, it is very, very easy not to remember the immense number of blessings that God gives us and just focus on the negatives that are happening in our lives!
I have to say that at times, I tend to look at the negatives in my life and dwell on them more than I should or more than is good or necessary. When we have challenging things happening in our lives, we should stop and think about the things or trials that we are going through and start turning to God MORE, so He can show us how to get through whatever it is that we are facing. In this regard, I think often about the Apostle Paul and ALL the things that he went through in his life. I especially find encouragement in what he says in Philippians 4:11-13, quoting from the NIV: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything [or “all things,” according to the New King James Bible] through him who gives me strength.” The “secret” to being able to deal with WHATEVER we are given in this life, is found, I believe, in giving thanks and finding thanksgiving in ALL situations that we go through. We need to have full confidence and faith in God, knowing with certainty that He knows everything about us and cares about us. The Bible is replete with these truths. Notice in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Also, note this in Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
During tumultuous times, God asks us to focus on Him and His faithfulness to us, rather than being shaken in this conviction by our circumstances; to dwell on His promise to never leave or forsake us; and to trust Him to help us in every situation we face in life. If we can do this more and more, then we are going to grow as Christians. And this is truly what God wants and desires in us, as we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Finally, reading in Colossians 4:2, we find these timely words: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” I would say, at no other time in our current history should this be more apropos and useful to us than at this time. We are witnessing the world crumble around us, and we know that things will NOT get better, but drastically worse and worse. We must remain close to God asking for His protection, guidance and help in these times we are living; and we must do so with an attitude of thankfulness.
I would like to put forth a challenge for all of us. What would happen if we spent the first couple minutes when we wake up and the last minutes before we go to bed in giving thanks to God? What if instead of every time we went to complain, we stopped and thought about something we could give thanks to God for instead? Based on God’s Word, I would be willing to say that things would start to change for the better in our lives! When we find ways to be thankful, we bring our focus back to God which is where it should be!