Watch Services

Close Menu X

Rethinking Thankfulness

Rethinking Thankfulness 

Paul instructs us with these words in Ephesians 5:19b-20, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I have highlighted the two thoughts that make the thanksgiving called for here a real challenge. In fact, without God’s help it is impossible to put these verses into practice.

Lately I’ve received some insight on these verses from an unexpected source. Its funny how often God gets our attention in unexpected ways. Reba and I were listening to a CD she had recently purchased. It wasn’t a gospel CD but one of the songs really caused me to rethink how I practiced thankfulness. In fact, it produced a paradigm shift in my thinking on how to thank God “always” and “for everything”.

It was a song that told a story – one of my favorite types of songs. The story in song focused on a hardworking mother. Her and her husband didn’t have much but a houseful of kids and a life of hard work. One day her prayer at meal time was so different it caused her family to ask, “Is everything okay?” She replied, “Everything’s fine.” The difference was her perspective on things. I am going to try to capture that new way of seeing things in the rest of the article by listing items we ought to be thankful for along with some comments to help us rethink thankfulness.

First, be thankful for messy rooms, noisy kids, and slamming doors. These are all signs of a busy, happy family. Speaking as an empty-nester, all these signs of life will be gone sooner than you realize. And trust me, you will miss them. So enjoy your noisy, busy family and be thankful for it.

Second, give thanks for your hectic, unorganized place of employment where you feel unappreciated. Yes, the work is unending and you could work 24 / 7 and never get ahead. But it puts food on the table and provides you a place to live out your Christianity and to use your God-given abilities. Thank God for long hours and steady work.

Third, be thankful for unemployment. It provides you with time to reflect on the issues of life in ways you couldn’t when you were employed. You can spend more time with the family and learn to trust God for the necessities of life. Now you can live out Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Fourth, thank God for troubles. They get you focused on the important matters of life really fast. When physical, financial, and relationship problems shake you at the core of your being all the trivial issues just fade into the background – where they belong. Nothing sharpens your focus like troubles. When you understand this, you will be able to speak the words of Psalm 71:20 with conviction, “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”
Fifth, thank God for you loud, noisy neighbors and their barking dog. This is a tough one for me. As I reflected on this thought, I came to see the need for such thankfulness. They help us practice Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Do you ever ask, “Why did Christ have to say in everything?” Answer: It makes us dependent on him.

Finally, thank God for impossibly tough questions. They may be theological or practical in nature but the answers seem to elude you. They force you to cry out to God. They cause you to go deeper in your thinking. You venture into areas you never thought about as you pursue the answer. So you continually bring the matter before God, yet the answer doesn’t come. Like the individual in Psalm 130:5-6, you cry, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” There is no better place to be at such a time than waiting on the Lord.

These are just a few ways we can go deeper as we thank God “always” and “for everything.” I encourage you to use these ideas to help you in this area. I also challenge you to not be limited by my thinking. Consider ways you can go further in these matters. As you do, keep Philippians 4:6 in mind, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Elder Jim Gordon