Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, dear readers. While the food and the football and the traditions are all wonderful parts of the holiday that we all look forward to, it’s an inarguable fact that spending time with family and friends is of paramount importance, no matter what you decide to do. Being able to fellowship with those you love is just one of many blessings God has given us.
But here’s thing: we don’t have to express thanks or be aware of our thankfulness just on Thanksgiving. While this is certainly not hard to do any other day of the year, it may not always come to mind, simply because we are all so busy with our jobs, schoolwork, or anything else. So, it begs the question: what occasions should we be thankful, and can we be thankful without having to set aside a day – or even a few days or a week – to remember to do so?
We can be thankful for our good circumstances.
Our good circumstances are certainly not something to be left alone to pass us by without us being thankful for them. David celebrated his joy in the Lord (Psalm 23), Moses and the people of Israel rejoiced over their victory and freedom from Egyptian oppression (Exodus 15:1-18), and Mary praised God during the time she was carrying the Son of God (Luke 1:46-56).
No matter how great or small the joys in our life are, we should remember to thank God for them. We especially need to thank God for them when we ask for them specifically in prayer, too. Based on what we read in Scripture, God encourages His people, including us today, to make specific requests to God (Philippians 4:6-7). I know I tend to feel selfish if I ask for certain things, but the God who loves us actually wants us to do so without fear, because though His will is what will ultimately be done, He wants us to talk to Him and to make requests, because He wants to help and provide for us in only the way He can.
So, having said all of this, how often have we asked God for very specific requests, and then forgotten to follow through with a thank-you? It’s something we should think about.
We can be thankful for our bad circumstances.
Though this can be easier said than done, we can actually be thankful for the bad times and the trials that come about in our lives. Trials are certainly not avoidable; in fact, it’s told to us in Scripture that we will face them (James 1:2-4). So, if they’re not avoidable, and if they’re so bad, why should we thank God for them?
We should thank God for them because, if we allow them to, they can bring us closer to Him.
It’s not that good circumstances can’t bring us closer to God. In fact, they can bring us close to Him just because of the fact that they can make us aware of how He can bless us richly. However, we must consider both sides of the coin and remember that any circumstance can shape us, good or bad. The bad circumstances sometimes make us more aware that where we are – this earth we live on and this world we live in – is not our permanent destination. If we cling to the hope we have and anchor ourselves to the Lord who has gone on before us, it will be easier for us to allow God to lead us through those bad times, and even be thankful for them in the end (Hebrews 6:19-20).
We can be thankful when we have the opportunity to worship.
Think about the worship services you attend for a moment. On the first day of the week, you have an hour set aside to sing, partake of the Lord’s Supper, pray, hear relevant Scripture be read to you, and hear a sermon given by a preacher who wants to help his congregation – you included – get to Heaven. And that one hour doesn’t include the other two worship services on Sunday and Wednesday evening that you attend, nor does it include the Bible classes and any other Church-held devotionals or any other opportunities to fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Dear readers, the opportunities – plural – you are given to worship are priceless. Never, ever, ever take them for granted.
We live in a world today that doesn’t grant such freedom so easily. In fact, in many parts of the world, not only is such worship considered odd or strange, it is also even punishable by the law, possibly by being socially outcast, being excommunicated, or even being put to death. If you are a reader who happens to be reading this from one of these fields, please know that I and so many of us Christians love you and are praying that you are safe.
We as Christians, no matter where we are, should be thankful to worship whenever and however we can.
In closing, it goes without saying that not only do we need to be thankful for the good times, the bad times, and the times we are given to worship the God who loves us, but we can also be thankful be anything and everything else in between.
We can be thankful for the days where we find our car keys after searching for them for so long during the mornings when we’re in a rush. We can be thankful for birthdays. We can be thankful for the rain that, even though it inconveniences us sometimes, is helpful in keeping God’s creation alive and well.
And, dear readers, we can be thankful for the day we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, family, and those we love.
So, if you haven’t thanked God lately – for anything – please do so. You’ll be glad you did.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:3-5).
By Savannah Cottrell