Give thanks always! Are you kidding me, God? Thankful for 2020?
God, are you aware that we are in the midst of a pandemic that caused over a million deaths worldwide with 250,000 + in the U.S. alone.?
Not only is there a worldwide pandemic, but also an election in the U.S. (which also affects the world) that was contentious beyond belief, and the people of the U.S. are more divided than anytime since the Civil War. There are riots in our cities, homicides are out of control, and our economy (even the world’s economy) is devastated. Many of us can’t even go to church! Really, give thanks always!
OK, I know that living a Christian life is not always easy: forgiving others, loving our enemies, repentance of our sins are all tall orders. But to give thanks always is right up there with the tough ones.
There just isn’t much to be thankful for this year. However, God, if circumstances were different we would be very thankful. If 2021 is better, just watch us ‘give thanks always.’ Really!
GIVE THANKS ALWAYS: SURE, WHEN LIFE IS GOING WELL???
Let’s look back at the beginning. The picture above is pretty, but I imagine the Garden of Eden to be beautiful beyond our comprehension.
Now, Eve not only lived in an idyllic garden, but she walked and talked with God in this beautiful paradise. Eve was a woman with a lot to be thankful for – no disease, financial hardship, or discord in her life. Of course, she was thankful.
Well, not so much. Although everything was perfect and all her needs and wants were met, it didn’t take much convincing from Satan that she didn’t have everything, and that just wasn’t fair. So, instead of “give thanks always” she decided to adopt the mantra “desire more always.” Eve did the one thing God asked her not to do. She ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Do we ever want more even when things are good? Do we desire something so much that it leads us to disobedience? Is our fruit a house, job, fame, relationship, fun, etc.? Ever spend too much to obtain something we wanted? Exaggerate to get the job? Do something against God’s laws in order to maintain a relationship? Have we ever sinned and drug someone down with us?
GIVE THANKS ALWAYS: WHEN YOU ARE SAVING ME FROM DESTRUCTION ???
Lot’s wife had a tough blow. God was about to destroy the decadent city she lived in and her luxurious lifestyle was about to end. So, what did she have to be thankful for? God sent messengers to warn and rescue her family from the coming destruction. Like Eve, she expressed her thanks by doing the one thing she was told not to do – look back at the city. Instead of being thankful for her saved life, she was longing for her life of sin.
Of course, we would never be so ungrateful if God was saving us from imminent destruction and death! Well, He has ladies. It is called salvation. But do we give thanks always?
So, before we are too harsh on Lot’s wife, how often do we long for something that God has asked us to give up? Instead of being thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice, we contemplate a life without the ‘restraints’ of a Christian life. Instead of church, we could go to brunch with the girls or get caught up at work. Taking time to study the Bible and pray when there is so much to do around the house is asking a lot. And giving to Christian charities or missions cuts into our “fun” money. Of course, instead of tithing we could buy a new car. Personally, I’ve always liked Mustangs!
GIVE THANKS ALWAYS: WHEN WE ARE CLOSE TO JESUS???
Salome was the mother of the apostles James and John. She made the request that her sons sit on the right and left of Jesus in His kingdom. You would think this woman would have been thrilled that her sons knew Jesus, not only as Messiah, but as teacher and friend too. However, it wasn’t enough!
Okay, but surely we aren’t Salome. When our children are following Jesus, we are so blessed. We would never be so presumptuous to ask to sit at the right hand of Jesus for ourselves or our children.
How about arguing with God (I mean praying humbly) about why we deserve more because we are sooo good. Okay, maybe not in those words, but admit it, we kind of understand Asaph when he writes in Psalm 73:3-4 & 13-14:
“For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.”
Before we deny these allegations, do we long to be more important from a worldly perspective by doing any of the following, or something similar:
Compromise your language to fit in with the group?
When intimidated, miss opportunities to share Jesus with others?
Overstated my accomplishments to impress others?
Exaggerated your children’s accomplishments when other children seem more successful?
Made a point of stating my accomplishments, title, or children’s success in front of others whose life is not going so well at the time.
Joined in laughter at the expense of another.
Stayed quiet instead of defending another person.
Told “white” lies to get myself out of trouble.
THE ANSWER TO ONE QUESTION DEFINES OUR ABILITY TO “GIVE THANKS ALWAYS.”
All the above women had much to be thankful for, but their “longings’ allowed them to push aside blessings and not give thanks always.
Of course, God doesn’t expect us to be thankful for the pandemic and deaths, but we can find things to be thankful for during 2020. More time to spend with Jesus learning, worshipping, and praising. How about technology that allows a vaccine to quickly bring an end to this misery? I am certain there is much in your life, as well as mine, to be thankful for this past year. We just need to put our “longings” aside and focus on the blessings our good God has given.
HOW TO DEVELOP AN “ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE”
Keep post-it notes on your nightstand.
Before bed, take a few minutes to write the blessings you experienced that day. Stick them on the walls of your bedroom, prayer closet, or refrigerator. Ask God how to use these blessings to glorify Him and help others.
Set aside a day of thanksgiving. Don’t ask God for anything. Start by reading Psalm 136. At the beginning of each waking hour take a few minutes to think about what you are grateful for in life. Keep a log.
Take some tips from a previous blog post: Five Ways to Jumpstart a Thankful Heart.
WRAP UP AND COMMENTS
This Thanksgiving read Psalm 136 before or after dinner. Also, to understand the history of Thanksgiving, read this article at the dinner table. It is full of interesting tidbits about this special day.
As always, comments are welcome and encouraged. Share ideas of how to be more grateful, ways you are celebrating Thanksgiving during a pandemic, or a super delicious Thanksgiving recipe!
BLESSINGS UNTIL NEXT TIME!