Giving Thanks : Part 1

Well it's that season! Yep - time once again for many in America to get together with their family and friends in the spirit of thanksgiving for a few hours, fight and argue among themselves, then go fight and argue with strangers at the store over who grabbed that "great deal" first.

Yeah - cynical, I know. Not everyone acts like that. But isn't that the general tone or feeling we get? I know a lot of people that are fed up with all that nonsense. So can we get back to the root of what giving thanks really is?

Why do we give thanks? Why should we? Today I'm going to give you the first and primary reason: everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

How's that for a start? You want to know what God's will for you is? There it is. Start with that. Start by giving thanks. (Notice that this doesn't say to give thanks for everything, but in everything. There's a big difference there. That's a different lesson for a different day.)

It doesn't matter what's going on. Give thanks to God through Jesus. That's not really super difficult when things are going great, is it? Well... yeah. If that was really the case, why would it be repeated over and over again in Psalm 107, "Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord..." I think all too often we get distracted by other things, or we're just relieved that something is going well, or maybe - just maybe - we want to take the credit.

With those things in mind, how then is giving God thanks even remotely possible when things aren't going great? Well... what do you thank anyone for? For what they've done or what they've said they're going to do, right? If you're not sure what He's already done or what He's said He's going to do in your current situation, you have to go to Him and ask. If He doesn't explicity point something out, then odds are He may very well lead you to Scripture.

If you're stuck, if you're not sure where to start, begin by thanking Him for being by your side and not leaving you alone in dire circumstances (Hebrews 13:5). Thank Him for being your strength and help and deliverer (Psalm 40:17, 46:1, 70:5, 72:12). Thank Him for giving you mercy and grace to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Think about times in your own life where you've done something for someone and didn't receive any gratitude - not even a courtesy "thank you." How did that make you feel? Sure - you probably didn't do it for the thanks, but did you feel appreciated? Did you feel that the time, effort, energy, and resources were well spent?

Even if by simply saying, "thank you" do you show God that you appreciate Him? What He's done for you? What He's promised you?