The smell of turkey wafts through the house… family piles into the kitchen, clamoring for their “special” chair and debating on which slice of pie will be most worth the calories.
Thanksgiving. A beautiful time of year. A time for family. A time for food. A time for giving thanks.
But sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
Sure, we probably do a pretty good job of giving thanks each year on the 4th Thursday in November. And perhaps you have been like many of my Facebook friends who have used November as a “thankful” month, stating one thing they are thankful for each day.
That’s awesome. But why do we only do it for one month of the year? 1/12th of our time out of 365 days.
I am a huge advocate for ALWAYS giving thanks, year-round. We give thanks for our house, our food, our family… but what happens when we are in the midst of a less-than-thankful circumstance?
One of my favorite Scriptures of all times comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:18~
“…Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Great theory. But seriously, how in the name of turkey gravy are we supposed to give thanks when we are in the midst of a storm?!?
One major thing that I want to note about our Scripture for today is a revelation that God gave to me a couple of years ago. Notice that it says “Give thanks IN all circumstances…” Not necessarily give thanks FOR all circumstances. God knows that some stuff is going to be hard for us, cause us pain and confusion. I believe He doesn’t expect us to say things like “Thank you God, for letting me suffer through <the death of a loved one/a broken relationship/financial failure/etc>.”
He DOES, however, desire (and expect!) us to give thanks IN all circumstances. It’s all about perspective. “Father, thank you for being with me in this time of <insert hard experience here.> I praise you that you are sovereign, and Emmanuel, God with us. I rejoice in your never-failing love as you draw me closer with each tear I cry.”
Ann Voskamp, author of 1000 gifts, speaks directly to this idea of giving thanks through the “hard stuff.”
“It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us…”
Giving thanks in the hard stuff isn’t easy… it is, in fact, HARD. But God makes it worthwhile, because we can trust Him. He always loves us. He doesn’t get upset when we come to Him with our heartache or questions… as long as we still rejoice in everything that He is, IN all circumstances.
Today, I challenge us to think of those hard moments… And how we can be thankful IN them. Perhaps you are in the middle of a storm right now, where giving thanks is the last thing on your mind. Or perhaps 2012 has been a year of turmoil. Or maybe it’s been great. Think a little deeper than the “typical thanksgivings.” I would love to hear your thoughts. Comment below.
Here are some of my hard thanksgivings from 2012…
“God, thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us through the loss of our first baby back in March. I rejoice that you have drawn us closer to you than we could have ever imagined through that experience. You continually to reveal the path to us, in miraculous and rewarding ways. Thank you. “
“Oh Father, thank you for the challenges that come with being an army family– you have shifted our eyes to focus not on today, but on eternity. We acknowledge that you are sovereign above all and we are so incredibly thankful for the strength you have infused into our marriage because of our career path.”
“Yahweh, I give you thanks in the ministry experiences over the last year that have pulled at my heart– I am constantly reminded me of your grace, your love and your plans for us. It keeps me yearning for you and reminds me of how much I desperately need you in my life.”
This week, no matter how you are celebrating Thanksgiving– whether it’s with dozens of people, food and football, or pizza and a movie with your spouse, or punching that time card at work, or sitting at God’s feet– Let’s remember to give thanks for the “hard stuff.”
Because when we are able to give thanks in the hard stuff… that is when we are closest to Christ.
Giving thanks through the storms,
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57