As soon as Halloween is over, the stores begin putting up Christmas displays. I’ve received no fewer than 117 “BlackFriday” emails from stores three weeks before black Friday. And at home, Christmas trees go up earlier and earlier every year instead of the day after Thanksgiving—the day which the Lord intended (2 Opinions 11:3).
All joking aside, more and more the world seems to be pushing us past the season of Thanksgiving. Have you ever noticed the irony of celebrating a day of contentment and gratitude and then immediately following it up with a day of greed? Could you make a list of 100 things that you are thankful for? Go ahead, I’ll wait….
Obviously, first would be the free gift of grace made available to all us through Jesus Christ. Next would probably be the The Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich™. And somewhere behind that would be your family, friends, homes, jobs, and your health. Starting at around #47, you’d start getting creative and listing things like indoor plumbing, electricity, and wi-fi. Somewhere in the vicinity of #64, the answers would come more slowly and you’d be thanking God for little things that you take for granted like lint traps, deodorant, and opposable thumbs. By the time you got to #88, you’d be stuck.
If you made the list, check it…twice. My guess is that the list did not include any of the difficulties, struggles, problems, or hardships you’re facing. We often focus on thanking God for all the good blessings. Nothing wrong with that. But read 1 Thessalonians 5:18 again: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God’s will is that His people be thankful both for the good, and for the grim.
What if we began to grow and mature in our gratitude? What if we began to thank God for both the good and for the difficult, hard, trying things of life? Stop and think how you could be thankful for…a lost job. Financial problems. Stress. Health struggles. Lost love. Falling grades. Family dysfunction. A car accident. Or even a death. That’s way more difficult isn’t it? In fact, it requires a shift in our perspective. Maybe that’s the point. Most of us tend to be somewhat seasonal in our gratitude. Our thankfulness is in direct proportion to whether things are going our way or not. Anyone can be thankful when life is a bowl of cherries, but how you handle the pits is what matters.
God’s will is about transforming and molding us into something far better. Part of that process is learning that God can be praised in every situation. There is always an opportunity to bring glory to the Father, and regardless of what you’re facing, God is still working. It’s these things for which you ought to be especially gracious.