Devotion for the Week...
Happy Thanksgiving Day (for Canadians, at least)! There will be turkey and all the fixings on my table this evening, followed by a delicious homemade Apple-Cheese Danish for dessert. We've been looking forward to this meal for days! Last night Aiden said, "Turkey dinner tomorrow, woo hoo!" I love that my boys are so easy to please :) While we eat, we'll ask the traditional "What are you thankful for?" - the answers to which are sometimes funny and always interesting.
I know that living where I do means I have a lot to be thankful for, from the big things like peace and freedom, to the little things like leaves changing colour and the ocean visible from my living room window. The same is probably true for you, too. Sometimes, though, circumstances get in the way and we get caught up in what is going wrong, so much so that we lose sight of the good things in our lives. Do you ever find that happens to you?
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Notice Paul didn't tell the people of Thessalonica to give thanks for all of their circumstances, but to give thanks in all their circumstances. Here's an example of the difference: when I was sick a couple of weekends ago, I spent pretty much the entire weekend sitting in one chair because I was too exhausted to do any of the many things I wanted or needed to be doing. It felt like the weekend was completely wasted because I didn't get anything done. I was not thankful for my circumstance (being sick), but I was thankful for a husband who went to buy me medicine without needing to be asked and who stepped in to get meals on the table, which is usually my responsibility. I was thankful for the book I read and for the the little bits of hand stitching I was able to do. Likewise, when my washer broke and we ended up waiting two weeks for a new one, I wasn't thankful for the broken washer, but I sure was thankful for friends who shared their working washers with me!
It's not always easy to find things to be thankful for, especially when our bad circumstances are more serious than a common cold or a broken appliance. So why is it God's will that we give thanks in all our circumstances? Why does He want us searching for the good amid the bad? I think it has to do with perspective. If we're focused on the things that are going wrong, it can feel overwhelming, and it can feel like things will never get better. But our perspective changes when we start to think about the things that we can be thankful for. It lifts our spirits a little, and helps us to feel hopeful and less overwhelmed.
Even better than that, being thankful reminds us that we have Someone to thank. God cares about us, no matter how we may feel while in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. By focusing on the good in our lives, no matter how puny the good may seem in the face of sickness or loss or whatever is going on, by seeing the good, we are reminded that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).
A heart that is thankful is also less likely to become bitter. We have all known people who have allowed the circumstances of their lives to make them bitter and they are not pleasant people to be around. Neither are they happy. Even when their circumstances change for the better, people who have become bitter tend to cling to their unhappiness. God does not want that for His people, and so we are instructed to be thankful, no matter what the circumstances.
Since it is God's will for us that we be thankful in all circumstances, let's allow today to be a day of thanksgiving (even if you're not Canadian!). In fact, let's allow every day to be a day of thanksgiving.
So tell me, what are you thankful for?