With Thanksgiving being this week, I have been doing a lot of thinking about things that I am thankful for. I have to admit that there are times that this exercise is hard. I mean with everything that has been going on in the crazy world it is easy to get your mind fixed on the negative that is going on. It is really hard to keep the attitude of thankfulness. Scripture tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Wow that is a tall task. How in the world is that even possible? We are somewhat biased towards a negative thought process. We see and feel the negative and pain, the things we lack and the burdens we carry more quickly than we see the blessings. So then how can we be thankful in all things?
We find the answer to that in verses 16 and 17. In verse 16 the bible says “Rejoice evermore.” What, how can we always rejoice? Isn’t that the same thing as being thankful? The answer is no. Rejoicing in a since means to celebrate. So, in this section of scripture Paul is writing to the Thessalonian believers. So as a believer Paul is reminding them to rejoice or celebrate what Christ has done for them. Now we can start to understand that it is possible to rejoice evermore but there is a catch. It is only possible if we are a believer. If we haven’t believed in Christ we will find moments of rejoicing but will never be able to rejoice evermore because we are still lost and empty. We will continue to have a bias towards the negative. In Philippians 4:8 we read “Finally brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise think on these things.” Thinking on the positive helps us rejoice and to be thankful.
In verse 17 we read “Pray without ceasing.” What does it mean to pray without stopping? It means to always be thinking about what would please God. We don’t have to have our heads bowed, eyes closed and hands folded to be praying. I can be talking to God why I am at work, driving my car, walking along the road. I can talk to God anywhere and at any time. This is the next step in being able to give thanks for everything. As a Christian we have to rejoice in what Christ has done for us and then we have to pray. When we pray we are humbling ourselves under the Lordship of Christ and we are seeking His will and direction. When we are in this position we are able to see and understand things from Christ’s perspective which leads us to a heart of thankfulness. If we don’t believe in Christ we will never see the need to pray to Him. We may never see the need to humble ourselves under His Lordship so we will never truly rejoice. We are most miserable indeed. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not in your own understanding but in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” To know God wants to give us direction will help us to keep a heart of thankfulness.
Christians, we must stop being unthankful and start living a life that is thankful in all thing. If we would dare to do this we would make such a big impact on a most miserable world. There is an old Hymn that says “Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your many blessings and see what the Lord has done.” It is time that we start rejoicing and praying so that we can be thankful in all things. Now I pray that you truly have a Happy Thanksgiving.
The writer is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Sidney.