If not all, most of us are asked a question at some point during the Thanksgiving season or day: What are you thankful for this year?
And the answers could be: Oh, I am thankful for life, for salvation, for family, for friends, for food, etc., etc., etc. All these are great, that is, expressing our thankfulness to these and much more.
But the question is, how genuinely are we thankful for the statements that we make during this time?
For example, it is easy for me to say “I am thankful for everything.” But, in reality, it will be a false statement. Why is that? Because it is not realistic to say I am thankful “for” everything when there are times in my life where I am not thankful. The fact is, we simply cannot be thankful “for” everything in all genuineness.
But, thankfully, God did not ask us to be thankful “for” everything. That would be difficult for many. But, He said, “in” everything, give thanks. Meaning, in every circumstance (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
The understanding of “In every circumstance, give thanks,” is in alignment with the context of Thessalonians. Paul urges the Thessalonian Church to rejoice, to pray and keep giving thanks to God in spite of the persecution:
- Rejoice always or Always rejoice [emphasis is on always]
- Pray constantly or constantly pray [emphasis is on constantly]
- Give thanks “in” everything. Or, better translated – “In everything giving thanks.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18.
All three imperatives are connected and should not be understood as independent of each other, even though, the three verses 16, 17 and 18a are “independent sentences.”
That is to say, continuously rejoice, pray and give thanks. For doing “all these three” is the will of God “in” Christ Jesus.
So, by this, we understand that we ought to keep rejoicing, praying and giving thanks to God continuously in whatever circumstances we might be.
Whether you are thankful or not, we should at least be grateful for the following with utmost genuineness as believers.
Be Thankful for Salvation (Eph. 2:4-10)
If you say that you are thankful for salvation, then you are acknowledging that you are saved by God’s grace and not by your own merit. It is great that we acknowledge that we are thankful for salvation. But, what good is in it for just “saying” it? Notice what the Psalmist says in Psalm 105:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples.” What good is it in just saying it and not acting upon what is received? A lot of us say we are thankful for salvation, but do nothing about it. Notice what the Psalmist said: Not just give thanks, but “proclaim his deeds among the peoples.” In other words, we should share, proclaim what the LORD has done for us. But, most of the times, we do not share or proclaim. The reasons could be many, such as fear, insecurity, uncomfortableness, etc. But, If you (we) are genuinely thankful for salvation, then we should share our salvation experiences and God’s goodness with others.
Be Thankful to the LORD for He is Good (Psalm 107:1-3)
Think for a moment about how many times the Lord is good to you. It is easy to forget His goodness, and appreciate Him for many things He did to us.
In Psalm 107:1-3, the Psalmist gives a command – “Give thanks to the LORD.” Why? He gives two reasons: (1) For He is good, and (2) For His faithful love endures forever.
Be Thankful for Many Answered Prayers (Psalm 138:1-5; 139:16)
God has answered many of our prayers. This is one of the things that can be easily forgotten. When we are in need, we pray, and when God answers the prayer, we will be thankful for a little while. But then we may forget. This is not to say that we must remember every answered prayer (or take note of every answered prayer). Sometimes we do forget until we remember them at a certain point in our lives. Nonetheless, thank God for many prayers He answered. After all, we are the objects of His care and concern. (Psa. 139:16) – “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me When as yet there were none of them.”
Be Thankful for the UnAnswered Prayers
Yes, we should be thankful for many unanswered prayers that we genuinely submitted to God. God may not have answered some prayers because He may have a better reason, purpose in not answering those. Though our immediate reaction might be sad, discouraged, frustrated, etc., we should acknowledge that God has all the right to respond or not respond and that He has better reasons as to why He did not answer, even though we do not understand it at that moment.
Be Thankful for Your Parents (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2)
Exodus 20:12 states, “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
God gives a command in Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother” with a reason “so that you may have a long life.” Paul emphasizes this same thought in Ephesians 6:2.
Acknowledge the importance of parents. Without them you do not exist; we do not exist. Without them, we will not have the opportunity to be thankful for/to anything. So, notice the importance of them and be grateful for them.
The list can go on and on as to what you and I can be thankful for. But, I believe that these are at least a few that we can always be thankful. But, that only counts if we are genuinely thankful. So, are you truly thankful for what you claim to be thankful?
Question: What are your thoughts? What are some other things that you can be thankful for?