At first glance, you might think, “What kind of a Christian could feel ‘less than thankful?’ Are we not commanded to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Philippians 4:4)?” That’s true; we are even commanded to “Consider it pure joy” whenever we face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). But please remember that a Christian is still a human being, and thus still a sinner. Even mature Christians may fall prey to feeling a little less than thankful during their struggles with ongoing sin and the various storms of life.
Here is what Scripture says about such times:
He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me. (Psalm 50:23)
If we are honest we all must admit that there are indeed times when we just don’t feel as thankful as we should. Sometimes the storm winds seem to be blowing so hard that the smallest bit of thanksgiving feels like a great sacrifice, especially when we are dealing with loss:
- loss of a job
- loss of money
- loss of a home or car
- loss of health or health insurance
- loss of a friendship or relationship
- loss of a loved one
- loss of hope
To be sure, loss can make even the tiniest bit of thanksgiving feel joyless and dutiful; only those who are deeply rooted in the truths of the Gospel can “offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,” as Scripture commands.
To offer thanksgiving as a sacrifice is a demonstration of trusting God’s perfect plan even when we cannot trace His hand. Only the truths of the Gospel can lift us above the waves of challenge and discouragement that roll over us from time to time and empower us to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving that honors God.
We must always keep the promise of Romans 8:28-29 in view: that all things—and that includes the things we don’t like—are working together for our good and God’s glory. Everything in the universe is being directed toward God’s great purpose of conforming us into the image of His Beloved Son.
Now, keep in mind that the Bible does not say “All things are good.” There is a lot of bad in this world; Scripture warns us that “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But the Bible also promises that even those things that appear to have been delivered for our own destruction will prove to be for our benefit in the end.
Regardless of where this finds you as we begin this Thanksgiving week, remember that God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving even when we don’t feel thankful! Our loving, heavenly Father delights in a heart that beats for the praise and the glory of His name . . . even during those times that praise is offered sacrificially through the storms of life.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!