The Act of Thanks

               A few weeks ago, I shared on Facebook about a Greek class I am currently taking. This is the first class I had gotten the textbook in braille, and how that came about is an amazing story. Beginning about four years ago, the Lord used a seemingly chance encounter to introduce me to a particular family. In turn, they connected me with another friend, who did the same, and so on. This happened for a total of five times until I was connected with a group who could transcribe the textbook into braille.

               But back when this all started, I wasn’t thinking about needing a textbook in Braille, let alone a Greek Braille textbook. Yet God brought so many people in my life that He used to open doors I had never anticipated. I didn’t see this at the time, but hindsight revealed how He lined everything up.

               As I was thinking and talking about this yesterday, I was just amazed and thanked the Lord for what He had done. Giving thanks is a theme that has come up repeatedly recently, and in many ways, is a defining mark of who we should be as believers.

               Throughout the New Testament, we see repeatedly the command to give thanks. Colossians especially is a book permeated with that theme. But of course, there are other places too. Ephesians 5:4, Philippians 4:6, Hebrews 13:15…the list just goes on and on. And conversely, Romans 1:21 says that ingratitude is a characteristic of those who reject God.

               As instructive as these verses are, there are two that really drive this point home.

“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20; NASB 1995

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

               Wow. Did you notice the universal language Paul used? He employs words and phrases like “always, “all things,” and “everything” (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). There is nothing excluded from this. We must be giving thanks to the Lord throughout our lives.

               But let’s be honest—there are times we don’t feel like giving thanks. There are seasons of life where stress, struggles, and difficulties seem so overwhelming, we feel like we don’t have much to be thankful for. And sometimes, we don’t even know why we should.

               During those times, we should still be giving thanks, just as much as when things are going well from our perspective. Why? Well, because God is upon the throne and this is His “will for [us] in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

               We may acknowledge that, but we still wonder—what are we to be thankful for? We may not think of much, but I can assure you there are things for which we can give thanks. It just takes us pausing, laying aside our anxiety and struggle, and thinking about the Lord.

               God impressed this upon me in the months after becoming blind. At first I struggled with what to be thankful for, but He continued to call truths to mind. Beginning with truths about Him and His Word, I began to give thanks. Soon that led to things about my family, and then on to other things, and so on. As I did, He gave me peace and the focus shifted off of myself. My physical situation didn’t change, but as I gave thanks, I learned to depend upon the Lord more. In response, He gave me joy, He gave me strength, He gave me peace.

               So I just want to encourage us to remember this truth. No matter what we go through, we need to give thanks. I’m not talking about marshmallow, feel-good words we just mouth off because we think we have to. Really stop and consider—what ought we to be thankful for. Paul asks the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).  Convicting.

               The point is that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). Our thanksgiving may seem to be small, but we ought to do it. Giving thanks to the Lord acknowledges who He is, reminds us we belong to Him, and knits our hearts closer to our Lord. Even in the midst of storms, we can give thanks, we ought to give thanks. As we do, the Lord is honored, and we will draw closer to Him.

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