Thanksgiving: Are We Committed To It?

Perspective

Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always great. We can be tracking along just fine, and then get bumped or jostled off course.

In fact situations may become downright bad, BUT as believers in Jesus Christ there’s a high standard and expectation placed on us—we are to always look for something for which to be thankful.

Christ-followers are to be the most gracious and appreciative people on the planet. As the cliché says, we are to always look for the silver lining.

Consider the following illustration: Once upon a time, a young mother was out shoveling the driveway after a snowstorm. She was whistling and humming cheerfully as she laboriously piled and pushed heavy loads.

A neighbor came by and watched for a spell, then asked why her husband wasn’t out helping her. She stopped to explain that one of them had to stay inside to take care of their toddlers, so they’d drawn straws to decide who’d go out and clear the snow away.

“Sorry about your bad luck,” the man said, sounding sad.

The woman replied, “Don’t be sorry. I won.”

We can learn from the young lady’s outlook—she had a commitment to keep the silver lining in perspective.

I Thessalonians 5:18 - NIV

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Standing Firm

What can we glean from that one simple verse?

First, it’s a command—give thanks in all circumstances.

Second, it’s God’s will for us—for this is God’s will for you.

Third, it’s supernatural—in Christ Jesus.

In the real world where we all live our lives, NO ONE can give thanks in all circumstances—no one’s knee-jerk response to calamity or adversity is gratitude. Humanly speaking, it’s simply impossible because our sin nature is one-dimensional—selfish and self-absorbed.

But, in Christ Jesus, we are changed. According to Paul in a letter to believers at Corinth, we become new creatures, but I’ve noticed that carnality hangs tough and gets off the leash from time to time.

Scripture is clear that our me-centric, mine-obsessed perspective is transformed, though the totality of evidence reveals that the shedding of the self-instinct is not instantaneous. We wish it was a swift process—some might even proclaim it to be effortless, but not so.

However, when we are faithful in the application of effort our mindset undergoes adjustments. When we generate lots of spiritual sweat, then little by little our focus shifts away from a sole fascination with me and mine. We begin to filter the happenings around us through the grid of eternity, which can be a remarkable release from the shackles of the temporary.

In Christ Jesus, we are to look upward to our heavenly Father—we also ought to be continually determined to look outward and carry a concern for others.

Even when bad stuff happens, even when evil strikes close to home, in Christ Jesus we can be thankful for God’s presence and peace—we can be thankful that God is actively working out his purposes in our lives.

Is that ever easy? No, but whoever said living out Scriptural precepts was going to be easy? If one embraces soft-soap theology that assures easy-breezy paths covered with rose petals, then they’ve been deceived by lies from the pit of hell.

What we are promised is that no matter how troubling or worrisome life may become, we are not alone—we have this on the authority of Jesus, straight from his mouth: “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Regardless of how arduous or demanding it might be to respond to upsets with thankfulness that is the task before us. When situations or hardships beat us down and just make no sense whatsoever, being in Christ Jesus means standing firm on God and the mysterious truth of his written revelation to us.

Romans 8:28 - NIV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Four Words

What part of in all things do we not understand? What part of God works for the good do we not grasp?

The point is this: If we are in Christ Jesus, then we love God and have been called according to his purpose, so exactly what portion of the command to give thanks in all circumstances do we not get?

We can be extremely thick-skulled and dense—we can miss what’s staring right at us. Many folks attend church week after week, month after month, year after year, and NEVER grasp four straightforward words that are the foundational truth of Scripture.

“In the beginning God. . .” are the first words of Genesis, the opening book in the Bible. These four words carry an enormous weight that seldom gets placed in the balance of our lives—the story we are immersed in is God’s story. Life is about God—life is about what God desires to accomplish in and through us.

We are to develop a commitment to thanksgiving, which can only happen as we intentionally keep our attention on who God is and who we are—to give thanks in the face of sorrows or difficulties we need to remember that every moment of our life is a gift from God.

If we truly viewed our life as a gift from God, would that not nurture in us a dedication to thanksgiving?

Let It Shine

Here’s an observation from experience: People do not complain because they have lots of problems—they have lots of problems because they complain.

Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. On the contrary, grumbling amplifies frustrations, spreads discontent, and can invoke an open invitation for our enemy to wreak havoc in our lives. Grouching and grumping makes us miserable.

Given the choice, would you hang out with a sourpuss whiner or a positive, thankful person? Given the option, would you willingly choose to work with someone who acts like they were weaned on a poison pickle or with a person who has a cheerful smile?

What's tragic is if the sourpuss bellyacher is a believer—that’s a tragedy because as believers in Jesus Christ we are supposed to shine like stars in the universe. A griper doesn’t shine.

The flipside is that a positive and thankful person is a great witness in this dark world. We only shine when we are thankful. Our light shines brightly when we are genuinely thankful—when we live it and express it even while traveling along those murky avenues. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

If you’re a chronic complainer, why not make this little verse your theme verse—if you’re positive and thankful, sing it loud: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Silver Lining

Let’s have a moment of sheer, unadulterated honesty: Even in periods of economic downturns, within the affluence of North America, we have it so good—we enjoy so much, and all too often we express thanksgiving so little.

Snoopy can teach us a vital principle: In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown brings out Snoopy’s dinner on Thanksgiving Day. It was just his usual dog food in the bowl.

Snoopy took one look at it and said, “This isn’t fair. The rest of the world is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food. Because I’m a dog all I get is dog food.” He stood there eyeing the bowl for a moment, and then remarked, “It could be worse. I could be a turkey.” Snoopy found the silver lining.

Instead of fixating on the negatives in our lives and complaining, we must search for the positives and give thanks. Rather than wishing for what we don’t have, we are to be thankful for what we have been given. We need to work at developing the following kind of mindset:

I’m thankful for the tax bill that comes due all too often—why?—because it means I’m gainfully employed.

I’m thankful for my shadow who watches me work—why?—because it means I’m out in the sunshine.

I’m thankful for the hedges that need trimming, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing—why?—because it means I have a home.

I’m thankful for the rainstorm that postponed a family event—why?—because it nourishes the crops I’ll purchase at the farmer’s market.

I’m thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the lot—why?—because it means I’m capable of walking.

I’m thankful for my monthly heating bill—why?—because it means I’m warm and comfy.

I’m thankful for the boxes, tape, and chaos of moving—why?—because it means we’re preparing for a brand new adventure.

I’m thankful for the perspiration and aching muscles from a workout at the YMCA—why?—because it means I’m not under-loved or underfed.

I’m thankful for all the anti-government yammering on the airwaves—why?—because it means we have freedom of speech.

I’m thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off key—why?—because it means I can hear and she makes me sound good.

I’m thankful for the piles of household tasks that never end—why?—because it means my loved ones are nearby.

I’m thankful when the alarm goes off and wakes me in the early morning hours—why?—because it means I’m alive and kicking.

I’m thankful for the weariness at the end of the day—why?—because it means I’ve been getting a job or two done.

Give Thanks

To recap—I Thessalonians 5:18 - Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s a command—give thanks in all circumstances.

It’s God’s will for us—for this is God’s will for you.

It’s supernatural—in Christ Jesus.

So, as Christ-followers, are we committed to thanksgiving?

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Comments 30 comments

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee

voted up and beautiful! Wonderful inspiring hub. Good job Ken, and most adequate during this time of year.

blessings...


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

samsons1 - Thank you. Your affirmation is much appreciated. Blessings.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Ken, Great Job!

This is a must read by everyone, especially this time of year.

I too voted it up and awesome. Indeed it is very inspiring.

:)


Dorance Calhoun 5 years ago

The illustration of the guy with the "Complaining" tape over his mouth reminded me of the year Peter said he gave up complaining for Lent. It was a great conversation starter, and a goal he readily admitted was impossible to keep -- though it was eye opening to try.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

CMerritt - Thank you. Appreciate your words. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Dorance. I think Peter had a good idea. I'll file that away & certainly will use it some time. Blessings & HAPPY THANKSGIVING backatcha.


Saintatlarge profile image

Saintatlarge 5 years ago from Canada

Great Ken, voted up... I am thankful, blessings brother, Have a terrific thanksgiving... Are you getting 2? Since you have a foot in each country. :-) St.L


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Saintatlarge - Thanks. I appreciate your words of encouragement. And yes, I do double-dip Thanksgivings. Blessings.


DaKingsKid profile image

DaKingsKid 5 years ago

Thank you for such insight. The more we do thank Him the better off things seem to be. Graham Cook said it like this "if your not thankful, thank Him till you are..." Blessings Beloved of God...


RevLady profile image

RevLady 5 years ago from Lantana, Florida

I think one of the greatest glories and honors we give to our Creator God is thankfulness. When I do not have a loaf, I thank him for the slice. Like this hub so wonderfully accentuate, IN everything we can find something in which to be grateful.

I love your spirit and appreciated this hub. Voted up and beautiful.

Love, peace and joy in Him!

Forever His,


jo miller profile image

jo miller 5 years ago from Tennessee

Thanks for another wonderful hub. Thankfulness is central to my faith. As you point out, it is "in" all things, not necessarily "for" all things. I have yet to find a situation so bad that I could find nothing to be thankful for.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

DaKingsKid - Your welcome. Thank you for you kind words of encouragement. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Saundra - I agree. Thankfulness helps keep our perspective in proper alignment. Thanks for the affirmation. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

jo miller - You're welcome. Thank you for sharing words of testimony. Encouraging & much appreciated. Blessings.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 5 years ago from Bismarck, ND

This is a fantastic hub! Love it! Am going to post it on my facebook wall. I especially like your list of things you are thankful for. As for me, one would be: I am thankful to be exhausted because that means I have a daughter to care for and I'm always there for her when she's sick.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Cari Jean. I always appreciate your words & encouragement. Peace, blessings & happy thanksgiving.


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

To be thankful for ones blessings is very important.

Great hub!


A M Werner profile image

A M Werner 5 years ago from West Allis

I loved it Ken! On Thanksgiving, I'm going to have this read outloud at the dinner table for everyone in attendance to hear. You've captured the mood so perfectly. Whoever thought we could learn a moral lesson from Snoopy? Peace.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, CM. And amen.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

AM - Thank you. That's a high honor for me--I am grateful. And yes, sometimes the Peanuts gang can surprise us with a lesson or two. Blessings.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

Ken, you hit a home run with this one. Most of us are often so blinded by the issue that we cannot look beyond it for the silver lining. Oh, gee I had to take $500 out of savings to pay for the car repair...we stop there withouth thinking, Thanks to God that I made the effort to save that money. When we think things are at their worst, there is always a level beyond which you can be thankful that you did not hit. If we put the energy we expend on complaining and worrying into finding a positive in our lives, the things that seem so big to us would fall by the wayside. For example, do you remember what you were worried about last Thanksgiving?....didn't think so! In reality, it probably was not that important. We are truly blessed here in America even in the down times in comparison to the way in which some people have to exist for a life time and even they can find something good in that. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year and we should celebrate it outwardly! WB


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It's often hard to keep optimistic. I know I should be grateful for still being alive.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Wayne. Appreciate your words & perspective. Have a great celebration of Thanksgiving.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks for your honesty, dahoglund. Blessings & much encouragement to you.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

True gratitude comes from a right attitude about God's Word. Thanks for sharing good encouragement to remember that we as believers, of all people, have the most to be thankful for!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks for stopping in & sharing. Amen to your words. Much appreciated.


Cedar Cove Farm profile image

Cedar Cove Farm 5 years ago from Southern Missouri

Very convicting. The silver lining is hard to come by sometimes, however, it should be easier to find for a Christian. Thank you for this. God bless.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Cedar Cove Farm - Yes, indeed. Very convicting. Thanks for stopping in & sharing. Blessings.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

I don't know about being committed to "Thanksgiving" but definitely I'm committed to giving thanks to God.

Brother Dave.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Amen, Dave.

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