Giving Thanks? For What?

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><img class="wp-image-221" style="width: 150px;" src="https://onesavedwretch.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/flap-logo.png&quot; alt="">As Thanksgiving weekend draws to a cold close in Siloam Springs. One more month left – if we have said it once, we have said it 100 times – what a year 2020 has been.  As Thanksgiving weekend draws to a cold close in Siloam Springs. One more month left – if we have said it once, we have said it 100 times – what a year 2020 has been.  

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in our great country, if we were to take just a few brief moments and look back over the headlines of FoxNews, CNN, or even President Trump’s friends over at Newsmax for that matter – regardless of your source of news – not a lot things worthy of our thanks jump out at you.

I had so much excitement coming into 2020. This was THE year that our family was going to do some new and fun things – this was THE year that the church where I pastor was going to reach more people and serve our community more, for a lot of people this was going to be THE year. But after getting off to a good start, Rona crashed the party. COVID took control of 2020 and in no time, sports were taken away from us, restaurants were closed, states were on lock down – and March introduced a new normal.

But little did we know that 2020 had a lot more up its sleeve. Throw in racial injustice and social unrest and we looked nothing like the UNITED States as friends were divided, houses were divided, we barely resembled One Nation Under God and we were far from Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All. I personally lost friends – real and social media friends – because of my active stand for people that look like my black wife and my bi-racial kids. Then came November 3. Election Day in America. Election anxiety, conspiracy theories, and claims of fraud. Our country became
“that” country; you know, the one we would watch on the news when there would be a country would have a transfer of power and there would be protests and rioting in the streets.

What could we possibly give thanks for in 2020?  That may seem like a question with no real good or easy answer.  It has felt like we are those Israelites in the Old Testament that wondered in the wilderness for 40 years to complete an 11 day journey.

They spent so much time in the wilderness because they were so divided, they spent days arguing with each other, and they did not want to listen to or trust in God. They all held a differing narrative of how things should be, and anyone that disagreed with their perspective was uneducated or needed more religion. From the outside looking in, it seems like they were not wondering through the Old Testament wilderness; but wondering the streets of America in 2020. 

Their 11 day journey was stretched to 40 years and it seems like these 11 months of 2020 has felt like 40 months. But it did not have to be that way for Moses and the Israelites – And I wonder how 2020 would have felt if we were united as a country, if we loved our neighbor, if we all sought to do justice, love mercy and walk with humility. Maybe – just maybe – despite all that 2020 has thrown at us, just maybe this year would have felt a little different. And maybe, we would find it easier to answer the question – what could we give thanks for in 2020?

Were they thankful that the Lord led them out of Egypt?  Hardly.

When they thought they would be murdered at the shores of the Red Sea – they complained. But when Pharaoh’s bad guys got swallowed up by the Red Sea after the Israelites made it safely through; then and only then were they thankful

When they were thirsty and had only bitter water to drink – they were ungrateful. But when they were provided fresh water from the rock in Chapter 17 of Exodus, then and only then were they thankful and drank it.

When they were hungry They accused Moses of bringing them out in the wilderness to die. But when God provided manna and quail to eat, then and only then were they thankful – and they were likely only thankful for a minute because God did not provide dessert!

So, yes at times they were thankful – but it is nothing special for someone to be thankful when everything is going their way; anyone can be thankful when you are living large on the mountain top, it is easy to be thankful when your team wins the game or your guy wins the election – anyone can be thankful when life is good.

However; in spite of these crazy times, we are created to worry less and praise more. To not just give thanks when we feel like it; but to enter each day with Thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says that we are to Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We do not wait for God’s provision before we praise Him with thanksgivings – we give thanks in all circumstances because we know God is in control.

  • We do not wait for the test results to come back before we give thanks – we give thanks even while we wait because in all circumstances – we rejoice, we pray, and give thanks to a God that is so very good and loving.
  • We do not withhold our thanksgiving until our finances are well – we give thanks even in the lacking because in all circumstances – we rejoice, we pray, and we give thanks to a God that cares about our every detail in life and hears our prayers.

The Israelites were thankful when and only when their needs were provided for – but if they were lacking they were complaining. But it is God’s will that we GIVE THANKS and GIVE THANKS in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.  Something jumped out at me as I read this verse earlier in the Thanksgiving weekend. 1 Thessalonians does not say be thankful in all circumstances – but to GIVE thanks.

Reading through that scripture, we see that those are not inherently the same thing…Being Thankful and Giving Thanks sound like they are  the same- but there is a pretty significant difference.

If you remember back in elementary school – or maybe those of you helping your kiddos through virtual school may have been reminded, A verb has two different jobs: Verbs show Action ; or A Verb simply shows a state of being.

Giving thanks is not a feeling, it is not a state of being: Giving thanks is an action.  Feeling thankful requires no action, feeling thankful is simply a state of being | 

It is the Giving of thanks – it is the action- the action of giving thanks that fulfills the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

In the Bible, best I could find – there are only a couple times in scripture where we are to BE THANKFUL (Colossians 3:15 Colossians 4:2 and Hebrews 12:28)… but there are countless numbers of verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:18 commanding us to take action and to not be thankful; but to GIVE THANKS

When things are not going the way we would like – we can still find areas in our lives to be thankful:

  • We can BE thankful that at least one part of your body does not hurt
  • We can BE thankful that at least our spouse did one thing right yesterday  (if you cant think of one – how about putting up with you)
  • We can Be thankful that our kids made – or at least considered making- a good decision.

Those are all good things to be thankful for every day – but they are just states of simply being thankful – But we were created to Rejoice Always, Pray continually, and GIVE thanks in all circumstances (Those are action verbs)

  • Give thanks that your back does not hurt today
  • Give thanks that your spouse put the laundry where it went and not in the bedroom floor
  • Give thanks that your children did not fight for a whole hour while playing

THERE IS ALWAYS REASON TO GIVE THANKS; SOMETIMES YOU MAY NOT FEEL THANKFUL; BUT THERE IS ALWAYS REASON TO GIVE THANKS FOR SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE – 

What if we made an intentional shift in our homes to continually give thanks – not when everything is going great – not once a year before we eat turkey – but because we want to do better in giving thanks in all circumstances.  We could not only change the culture in our homes, be we could change our workplaces, we could change our churches, we could change our communities, we could even change our country by not just being thankful but by taking action and giving thanks 

Here is one way you can start making that transformation right now – think of that person that knows you well, knows your good, bad, and ugly AND still loves you! Post a picture of them on your social media, tag them, and give them thanks for being such a positive influence in your life.

Be Human – Be Kind

Peace and Love – One Saved Wretch

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says that we are to Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

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