Whenever I begin thinking and praying about a new topic for a post I try to call to mind what I have written before so that I don’t end up repeating myself. Looking back at the history of this blog it would seem that I write about thankfulness fairly often and therefore I should write about something else this week. Yet I feel in my spirit that this is where I am supposed to be and that if it were not important to the Lord then He would be leading me elsewhere.
I know what the Bible says about thankfulness, that we are to rejoice always and to give thanks in all things. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB) Paul wrote these words:
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Even as these words comfort and encourage me they bring me to a realization: I don’t know what “rejoicing always and giving thanks in everything” actually look like. As an ideal they are fantastic and challenging. “I want to be this kind of person!” is what I think to myself. But my practical mind wants to look around for examples, for some concrete image of what a person who rejoices always and gives thanks in everything looks like.
Let’s be honest, as human beings thankfulness is not natural. Grumbling, complaining and whining come naturally but rejoicing and giving thanks most certainly do not. So instead of looking for a human being to be my model for thankfulness I should instead be asking the Holy Spirit to be my teacher and to make me the kind of example that I am looking for.
Please realize this is not an indictment of anyone that I know personally. Thankfulness is hard. And it seems like the more blessed we are as children the harder it is. Because we start off with so much many of us grow up feeling entitled to comfort and with the mindset that everything should come easily.
We grow up and encounter the real world and it doesn’t take too long before adult responsibilities very forcibly show us that most things that really matter aren’t easy at all. We experience failure, heartbreak and lean times and we allow bitterness and complaint to take root. We become pessimistic and somewhere along the way we forget all about rejoicing and giving thanks.
I know because I have been there. Not too long ago I was that person. And perhaps God has me thinking and writing about thankfulness so often because I desperately need the reminders and the encouragement. Maybe you do as well.
Let me end this by saying the key to rejoicing always and giving thanks in everything is found right in the middle, in verse 17. “Pray without ceasing” it says. Without our unceasing prayer and our heart and spirit lifted to the Father above we don’t have it in us to keep on rejoicing and giving thanks in the midst of terrible circumstances. But with our prayer and our entreaty God can take our weakness and show forth His strength in us. Oh that we would let it be so!