Thanksgiving. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear that word? Is it a day, a family meal, or perhaps a specific menu of foods? Is it an attitude that comes and goes based on how you feel? Or is it a way of life which flows from you regardless of your circumstances? These devotions I will be sharing this month were originally written throughout November 2019 and then edited/updated during the summer of 2020 for a 31 day devotional journal, “The Heart of Thanksgiving: Living a Life of Thankfulness” I will be re-sharing them here this month to encourage each of us to pursue a greater spirit of thankfulness in all we do.
Here is day one with an important reminder that living with a heart of thanksgiving should cause us to rejoice always.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ASV)
It is that time of year again, at least here where I live, that people begin to think about being thankful. Actually, I don’t know if there is a real increase in the level of gratitude or just in the expression of it; but either way, thankfulness becomes more visible and that’s a good thing.
So, what better way to start a series on giving thanks than with the above verses from First Thessalonians where we find it is God’s will that we give thanks in all circumstances. You’ve likely heard time and time again that one of the keys to this command is the simple word, “in”. With that one little word, we find instruction to be thankful even in the midst of things that no one would be particularly thankful for. One of the benefits of a national Thanksgiving Holiday is that it tends to lead many to consider the things for which they are thankful regardless of their current circumstances.
Also key to being able to give thanks in everything is the command to rejoice always. Our level of gratitude is usually tightly connected to our attitude. Choosing to live with a joyful heart will lead each of us to a greater recognition of the many things for which we ought to be thankful . . . even in the midst of difficult circumstances. As a Christian there are many things that should lead to greater rejoicing, but at the top of that list should be the knowledge that our name is written in the Book of Life. When we choose to “rejoice in the Lord”, it will be in that act of rejoicing that we find much to be thankful for.
But even more important than rejoicing, I believe the command to pray without ceasing may be the greatest key in learning to give thanks in all circumstances. You see, all of these (rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks) are God’s will for us and prayer is the communication tool that connects us with the heart and will of God regardless of the circumstances of life surrounding us. When we pray about the good things of life, we will find we are more thankful to the One who provides them all. When we pray about the difficult things of life, we discover One in whom we can be thankful as He has the understanding, power, ability, and desire to hold us and carry us through all things.
It is my prayer that each of us would take to heart the message of God’s Word and continually grow in our practice of giving thanks in all circumstances — not just in a season of Thanksgiving, but every day God gives us life here on earth.