“Further” because I already shared some yesterday. Surprisingly my old mind has a few more.
Memories. Cheering our local high school football team. Worshiping at the community
Thanksgiving services. Eating feasts—one with Lois’ parents, one with mine. So many blessings with our young family. Wish I could go back.
I think today, too, of suffering people—parents grieving over a child lost to war or gun violence; the widow with the love-of-her-life’s chair empty; the father diagnosed with cancer afraid this may be his last Thanksgiving with his family. Hospitals are filled today. Today, on Thanksgiving, people will die.
Morose? Guess I’m emotionally caught between the blessings of younger years and so much suffering I see. Into that unsettling mix comes the apostle Paul’s admonition . . .
“Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, GNT).
This is what God wants from us: always joyful! at all times praying! in all circumstances thankful! Whether stuffing down a Thanksgiving feast surrounded by our young family or chomping down a peanut butter sandwich alone and hurting.
God wants this from us, not to earn points, but because he’s made this possible for his honor and our joy. “This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.” Our Holy Spirit-connection with Christ has not only given us reasons to “be thankful in all circumstances”, but power to “be thankful in all circumstances.”
Reasons? Regardless of circumstances, we are God’s children in Christ Jesus. He’s with us in Christ Jesus. He’s coming for us in Christ Jesus. We’ll live with him forever in a new creation in Christ Jesus. I could go on . . .
Awareness of those reasons helps us be thankful in all circumstances. “Count your many blessings; name them one by one” we used to sing. Good advice. There are times, though, when present pain smothers good reasons. Reasons make it reasonable to give thanks in hard times. But hurting can overpower logic. It’s then we need power to give thanks. And in union with Christ Jesus, we have it.
May I make a confession though? Sometimes, for me at least, power isn’t there. What then? A suggestion: since we know giving thanks is what God wants (for his honor and our good), but the circumstances strangle the thanksgiving in our throat, pray for the Spirit’s power!
“O God, I know you want me to be joyful today. I know you want me to give thanks today even though my body aches and my mind is filled with doubts. And I know I have good reasons (yes, plural) to do what you want. But I can’t. Not by myself. So please, Holy Spirit, empower me. Give me a ‘shot’ of joy. Grant me a grateful heart that overflows with thanksgiving from my lips. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
What’s the “big deal” about “thank you, God”? In his latest blog (http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/11/23/thanksgiving-theological-act-mean-give-thanks/), Dr. Albert Mohler, calls thanklessness “the primal sin” . . .
“After making clear that God has revealed himself to all humanity through the created order, Paul asserts that we are all without excuse when it comes to our responsibility to know and worship the Creator. He wrote:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. . . [Romans 1:20-22].
This remarkable passage has at its center an indictment of thanklessness. They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Paul wants us to understand that the refusal to honor God and give thanks is a raw form of the primal sin. Theologians have long debated the foundational sin — and answers have ranged from lust to pride. Nevertheless, it would seem that being unthankful, refusing to recognize God as the source of all good things, is very close to the essence of the primal sin. What explains the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden? A lack of proper thankfulness was at the core of their sin. God gave them unspeakable riches and abundance, but forbade them the fruit of one tree. A proper thankfulness would have led our first parents to avoid that fruit at all costs, and to obey the Lord’s command. Taken further, this first sin was also a lack of thankfulness in that the decision to eat the forbidden fruit indicated a lack of thankfulness that took the form of an assertion that we creatures — not the Creator — know what is best for us and intend the best for us.
They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Clearly, honoring God as God leads us naturally into thankfulness. To honor Him as God is to honor His limitless love, His benevolence and care, His provision and uncountable gifts. To fail in thankfulness is to fail to honor God — and this is the biblical description of fallen and sinful humanity. We are a thankless lot.
Sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God know a thankfulness that exceeds any merely human thankfulness. How do we express thankfulness for the provision the Father has made for us in Christ, the riches that are made ours in Him, and the unspeakable gift of the surpassing grace of God? As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift'” [2 Corinthians 9:15].
So there they are—“further thanksgiving thoughts”. I’m done. Thanksgiving Day is just about over. All that’s left, then, is to give thanks . . .