Sometimes you want to just throw your hands up and cry, “I give up!”
That’s certainly the case when it comes to some of God’s commands in the Bible. Throughout the New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) there are numerous “hard sayings” of Jesus that are “beyond” us — i.e., that are impossible for us to keep in our own strength.
Things like “Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you and pray for them who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). And, when you throw in Luke’s version of “Blessed are you when men shall hate you and separate you from their company and reproach you and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy…” (Lk. 6:22-23a), you want to scream “Impossible!!”
The same is true with I Thessalonians 5:18, which says “In everything give thanks—for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
“In everything? Everything?!?”
Partly because we can’t do it. And, partly because we don’t WANT to do it.
No, there are a lot of things that happen to us that wound us to the core: Venomous words. Vicious deeds. Evil returned for good. And, most of these things have to do with those around us, which caused one cynical sage to write “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand!!”
Humorous, but true!
But, even without that dynamic in the equation, there’s still a lot that happens to us in life that robs us of our joy and zaps us of our strength: failing health … a lost job … a broken marriage or home that more resembles a war zone than it does a nurturing, loving, caring refuge from the storm.
Some of you reading these words right now are inwardly shouting, “Amen! Preach it, Brother!” This year has been a horrible year for you. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong — and more! You’ve memorized “Murphy’s Laws” and have concluded he was an optimist!
So, it chaffs you a bit when you read “In everything give thanks”—for you certainly don’t feel like doing that right now. If anything, you feel like weeping an ocean full of tears … or throwing a hissy-fit … or shaking your fist at God … or committing murder or hari-kari.
But, dear Reader, all those feelings are normal.
That’s why we need God’s Help in fulfilling His Command to be continually grateful. And, this won’t happen without us relying on and resting in His sufficient Grace (II Corinthians 12:9-10).
Let’s face it:
Life is incredibly hard, isn’t it? It’s not fair and it’s certainly not fun at times. In fact, it can be downright cruel and unbelievably sad, if the truth be known.
But, again, that’s where God’s “Grace-Gratitude” is needed.
Even though we may not be able to understand why certain things have happened to us this year, we still must trust in the One Whose Eye is on the sparrow as He catches our tears in His Bottle (Psalm 56:8—KJV).
Yes, true Thanksgiving isn’t a set time of the year or what we do when things are going great; instead, it’s an “Attitude of Gratitude” where we know God is “working everything together for good in our lives simply because we love Him and fulfilling His Purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Here’s praying you’ll spend some time this week, as the old Gospel song says, “counting your many blessings, naming them one-by-one.” As you do, don’t forget the rest of the lyrics which say “And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Amen and amen.
Hope you’ll have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving this week. May Christ’s Love, Peace and Joy fill your heart to overflowing as His Grace and your Gratitude join together in loving words and deeds. God bless you.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.