Despite the seemingly earlier and earlier push of Christmas, Thanksgiving remains one of the major holidays we in the U.S. celebrate. Travel exponentially increases, families gather, and while we are supposed to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, we often get caught up in the pitfalls of family drama, shopping, or if you’re “lucky” some strange combination of both!
I was recently watching an episode of “Live Free or Die.” This is a reality show on the National Geographic Channel that follows some folks who live “off the grid.” In this particular episode, a gentleman by the name of Colbert, who the crew from NatGeo had been following, returned to find his home he had built over the last 20 years had burned to the ground. The utter shock and sadness was palpable. Imagine going about your day and returning home to find everything you owned to be in a charred pile of ashes…oh, and have a camera crew with a camera jammed in your face gathering the reaction. Ugh.
Now, I know what you are thinking. What does reality TV, a survivalist, and fire have to do with Thanksgiving? In all the shock, Colbert began picking through the ashes where he found some items that survived the fire. Sadly, his reaction is one I am not sure I would have had. Colbert, when faced with the prospect of being able to recover a frying pan, some axe heads, and a gun, tearfully states “I’m rich! I am blessed. I have more than enough! All I can do is be thankful I have so much!”
I can assure you I most likely would not be as glass half full when faced with something similar. What does the Bible have to say about being thankful?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
says: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
When faced with tough circumstances, it seems that the LAST thing we want to do is be thankful. Yet the Bible tells us that’s what we are to do. In the New Testament, we see that Paul and Silas, after being beaten, arrested and thrown into prison, in the midst of this, they are still singing praises to the Lord. I am not talking about just amongst themselves, I am talking, at midnight, belting it out like they are in the American Idol finals. Notice something, notice that they were thankful IN their circumstance not FOR their circumstance. In our own lives things may not always be the way we think they ought to be. When bad things happen, it seems that there’s nothing to really be thankful for and that may in fact be right. We shouldn’t be thankful that our house burned down, but IN that circumstance, there can be things to be thankful for. That is what we as Christians are called to do.
God doesn’t leave us just hanging with the notion, “Hey bad stuff is going to happen and I expect you to be thankful.” He loves us far too much for that be His only request. He also promises us that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28
). Notice that’s a big picture statement. Sure the house may have burned down, but maybe that allows you to be a strong witness and lead someone to Christ. We may not always know what God has planned. But we know if we trust Him, we may seemingly lose some fights but the battle belongs to the Lord! So this Thanksgiving, when faced with some daunting prospects of things from holiday travel, turkey cooking mishaps, and even that family/shopping drama combo we mentioned earlier, remember to be thankful IN your circumstance. Although it may be sometimes tough to see, God works all things together for good.