Every year, many families gather this time of year across the US to celebrate what we call “Thanksgiving.” Now, I know some families have tense get togethers, but ideally, we gather around a meal and share what we are thankful for, and, since it was a holiday begun by Christians, traditionally (though I recognize many people stopped doing this), thank God for His provision. The thing is, though, Christians should not only focus on a single day in the year, but every day, in any and every circumstance (yes, even prison, death, and whatever else may happen to us, we need to rejoice and have a thankful heart).
Have you ever wondered why we’re to be thankful, especially considering we’re one of the most hated groups of people in the world? We have a lot to be angry about! People call us bigots, people think what we say should be regulated (because when we talk about what Jesus died for, it causes people to change, or double down on death and rebellion). As we speak, there are Christians imprisoned for being outspoken in their faith, being killed by those who oppose them, or being tortured somewhere to get information on their fellow church members. And yet, I find, those I know in these places are some of the most joy-filled grateful people I know. Why?
Simply put, they have no hope in this life. They place all of their faith, hope, and joy in Christ Jesus and have a full and abundant life, even in their current circumstances. And this is why gratitude should be a permanent fixture in a believer’s life: we have the Spirit of God living in us because Christ died to pay the penalty of our sins, and rose again conquering the consequences of our sins, giving us new life now, and a hope for eternal joy and life in His presence. Loved ones, even if we have only Christ in our lives, and all else is gloomy and sad, we have everything to be thankful for. Make gratitude a lifestyle, fed by grace, peace, hope and joy in Christ Jesus!
1 Thessalonians 5
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Brothers, pray for us.
Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.