Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not Finding Things to Give Thanks For, But Giving Thanks in All Things

Many times I write my posts based on what is in my heart that day or what I have seen or heard going on in the church.  Then there are times like today when my writing is based not about what is on my heart so much, but what my heart needs to work on.  This week we celebrate Thanksgiving and it is a wonderful day to think of all the things for which we should be thankful to God.  The problem, though, is that it is not about finding all the things in our lives to be thankful for, but for finding a way to give thanks for everything in our lives.  I am going to share two passages, one is the goal and the other is the motivation with the bridge between the two being faith. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

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.  Romans 8:28 NKJV

God tells us to be thankful in everything and the reason is that all things work together for good for those who love God.  Sometimes it is difficult to make that connection.  I am the poster boy for that.  Sometimes I see the problem and I can not see how it can possibly work out for good in the end.  I realize, though, the problem is not the problem I am facing but it is in my faith for not believing how God can work it out.  For anyone else having a hard time finding a way to be thankful in hard times, the problem is the same.  We focus so much on the problem and how big is seems to us that we fail to see God and how small the problem is compared to Him.  Being thankful for hard times is difficult, I know.  So many families are going through hard times right now.  Finding thankfulness in unemployment, homelessness, sickness, chronic pain, and losing loved ones may seem impossible but that is only because we are looking at the problem and not at the One who is going to work it out for good. 

I think there is another problem that many face in these kinds of situations.  I certainly know that I do. That problem is pride and the feeling that we need to somehow be a part of working things out.  God may have a part for us to play or God may have us remain still and just know that He is God.  God has done it both ways in the Bible, but in either case it is always God who ultimately does the working.  Giving things over to God can be hard.  Once again, though, it is a matter of faith.  You need to ask yourself if you really believe the promise that God will work it out.  You also need  to ask yourself if you truly believe that God loves and cares for you.  I say that because if you truly do then you must also truly believe that God is going to take care of you. We are told to cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us.  Do you believe that?  If so, then we must be willing to trust God to take care of all those problems that come up in our lives.  We must have faith that He will work it out.  We must have the faith to stand aside and let Him do the work and only act if He tells us to and only do what He wants us to do.  Anything more is only getting in the way of His plan. 

So with all of that said, my message for this Thanksgiving is not to find things to be thankful for, but to find the things you are not thankful for and work to change your heart in those areas.  Many people love to list the things they are thankful for this time of year.  Some are even posting one thing each day for which they are thankful.  That is not a bad thing to do, but it is easy.  You can always find something good to be thankful for, even the unbeliever can do that.  This year, I want us all to step it up a notch.  I want us all to find things in our lives where we can see no good in them and yet truly give thanks to God for them.  I want us to take those things that bring us down and give them to God, in thanks, knowing that He can and will work it together for good.  Have faith in God and in His promises and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God Philippians 4:6 NKJV

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