The Scottish minister, Alexander Whyte, was known for his positive attitude and uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be thankful.
One Sunday morning the weather was awful. It was a dark, dreary, and stormy day. One of the deacons remarked, “Well, the preacher won’t have anything to be thankful for on a day like this.”
Whyte began the service with a prayer that went something like this. “O Lord, we thank you for this day, and thank you that it’s not always like this.”
This story reminds me of a short, but profoundly important passage of scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Paul commanded, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
For many families, Thanksgiving Day may be different than any previous holiday. With COVID-19 lurking, travel concerns, and even restrictions, or at least recommendations in some states regarding the size of family gatherings, Thanksgiving will have a different feel and look.
However, this passage challenges us to ponder three important commands.
#1 Give thanks
The spirit of thankfulness should characterize all Christians. It emanates from within us. Our heart. Our soul. Our mind. The British preacher, John Henry Jowett, once wrote, “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”
People appreciate a simple, sincere “thank you.” From the customer to the clerk, from the child to the parent, and from the passing stranger who opens a door for us, those two words express an attitude that speaks volumes about our character. Slow down. Look around. And see that you have much to be thankful for. Not just from others, but ultimately from our good and gracious God from whom all blessings flow.
#2 In everything
The ESV renders this “give thanks in all circumstances.” Not all of the situations in which we find ourselves are pleasant. However, even when we face adversity, problems, and challenges, like Alexander Whyte , there is something for which we can give thanks.
Thanksgiving is not dependant on a certain set of circumstances, but a certain set of attitudes. We may not be happy about the situation we are in, but we can still be thankful while enduring it. Paul is a good example of this. He was beaten. Imprisoned. Run out of town. Shipwrecked. Persecuted by his enemies. Betrayed by his friends. Suffered without life’s necessities. And was pained by a continual thorn of the flesh. All of which occurred while faithfully serving the Lord and preaching the gospel of Christ. Yet, he found much for which to be thankful. So can we. Yes, even in the midst of a pandemic.
#3 It is the will of God.
It is good to be reminded that thankfulness is not just a suggestion. Or an admirable quality. It is God’s will for us. He desires it and commands it. It is a virtue, like all others, that he expects us to develop and grow in.
As we approach our national day of Thanksgiving, let us not take for granted God’s goodness. While not every circumstance may be exactly to our choosing, look for the good. Count your blessings. See the light of God’s love shining even in darkness. Appreciate your family, friends, and brethren who make a difference in your life.
In the midst of challenges and concerns we’ve experienced in 2020, be assured of this: God loves you. Cares about you. And knows you. He’s provided for you all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. And He’s prepared heaven for you to dwell eternally.
In the past few days, we’ve received news reports that three pharmaceutical companies have developed a vaccine for COVID-19 that may soon be approved and available. Regarding this good news, Dr. Anthony Fauci exclaimed, “Help is on the way!” That’s certainly something to be thankful for.
However, throughout this crisis, we’ve been able to confidently proclaim with the Psalmist, “…The Lord; He is our help and our shield…” (Ps 33:20).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
By the way, The Preacherman is taking a short holiday break. However, we will reblog some past posts for your reading pleasure.