Thanksgiving is more than just a list of God’s blessings. It is more than a recounting of answered requests. More than just holiday with family, too much food and time off. It is not a list, a litany we say, or a meal to attend. Thankfulness is a way of being. Jesus
asks us to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:18.)
I was often confused by this Scripture. How could I give thanks when my parent’s body was wracked with illness, when employment did not come easily, or when my faith faltered? It is easy to be thankful when all is going smoothly, but what about those other unexpected bumps in the road? I missed the significance of a little word “in.” I do not have to be thankful “for” all things, but “in” all things. My mother’s health problems were a consequence of illness and this fallen world. I could be thankful “in” this situation where I found I drew closer to my Savior, where relationships had a chance to heal, and where God’s love and care could be expressed to our family through His beloved children.
Corrie Ten Boom, while in the concentration camp, was reminded of 1 Thes. 5:18. There was an infestation of fleas where they were holding Bible study. She was confronted with the fact that she needed to be thankful in all things. How was it possible to be thankful where she was, and with a flea infestation. She began Bible study and soon realized that the fleas were truly a God-send. The guards would not enter to punish these prisoners because they were disgusted by the fleas. God allowed himself to be glorified and His word to be shared in this situation, and for that, they could be thankful.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chron. 16:34. Whether you are on the mountaintop thanking Him for His blessings, or searching for something to praise Him for in the valley, He is there. Thanking Him for His love and goodness is possible in all things.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.