As we come once again to the Thanksgiving holiday, I am reminded of what the apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (5:18). It is important to notice that Paul doesn’t say be thankful for everything, but in everything. That is the secret! Paul is not telling us to be happy when we are sad, or to even put on a façade of contentment when we are disappointed. What he saying is don’t forget everything you have and have been blessed with in life just because you lack, or are disappointed, or going through a season of suffering. He is not saying be thankful for the painful or unpleasant experience you are presently going through, but in the midst of it, be thankful. Being thankful requires us having a long view of life that stretches to both past and future. Paul is calling on us to be thankful for what you do have and remember God is good and has a plan for your life. In essence, being thankful is about trust. This is what we see with the Pilgrims who came to America in 1620. Escaping persecution, they left their homeland and took a huge risk making a hard voyage on a little ship and failed to reach their original destination. They ended up in a strange land facing a bitter winter where they experienced the grief of losing half their congregation. They faced the fear of hostile natives. But because of their faith and the providence of God, they celebrated one year later a 3-day feast giving thanks to God. One of their members, Edward Winslow, described the feast they enjoyed and shared with the natives. He concludes And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” In the midst of hardship and grief, they demonstrated thankfulness and faith. May we learn the lesson they exemplified. Thanksgiving – it is therapy for our soul and honoring to our God.
1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods. – Psalm 95:1-3
– Dr. Gary Mathes