Giving Thanks in All Things
'..give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.'
-1 Thessalonians 5:18
This has been an unusual year to say the least. Not only have the words 'global pandemic,' and 'Covid-19,' and 'shutdown,' 'shelter in place,' and 'new normal' (among other things related to the Coronavirus) become a part of our everyday vocabulary, but new realities like wearing face-masks, social distancing and business closures have also become a part of our new reality as have the cancelling of sporting events, large public gatherings, vacations and a host of other things.
The election was on November 4th, and there are still allegations of voting fraud as lawsuits are being filed in various states. That to say, while we believe we know who our next president is, we are not 100% certain and may not be until the beginning of December.
'We are not 100% certain' could be the slogan for 2020.
There are many stories and reports of people feeling rather disoriented by this year. We have seen riots and protests and social fragmentation on top of all of the other unusual things in 2020.
People are on edge. There is a higher rate of anxiety and stress and depression as people try to make sense of the year and all that has and is happening. Even as we are hopeful because a successful vaccine appears to be on the horizon, even with that knowledge, the 'experts' are telling us that it may well be the end of 2021 when everything goes back to 'normal.'
The idea of another year of 'we are not 100% certain' for many is rather overwhelming.
I want to challenge all of us who follow Jesus to do something that is rather counterintuitive: give thanks.
We are commanded to give thanks (see verse above). God's expectation of His children is that we be thankful in all things at all times, and this is, honestly, not always easy for us. At times our circumstances or people or our problems or pain become larger in our mind than God Himself.
Why should we be thankful and how can we be thankful?
First, we should be thankful because our God is All Powerful, All Wise and in His Sovereignty, is working all things together for the ultimate good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
You see, we are not the victims of random chance or bad luck or blind fate. God is over all of this: elections, Covid-19, economic uncertainty...all of it.
Second, because He is Sovereign and at work in all of this, we can trust Him. We may not know what He is always doing, but we know that He is Good. He is God. We cannot control all of the variables, but He is over all of them.
Third, we consider some of the lessons God may well be teaching us as His children, and we thank Him for these lessons:
God is our Sovereign, not man. Not a politician. Not a political party. For the Christian, Christ alone is our King. As such, we thank Him for being our King and worthy of our absolute trust.
God also wants us to trust Him with everything. It is easy to affirm this when times are 'good,' but He wants us to trust Him with everything all the time. This is how our faith grows. God is refining us. As such, we thank Him for refining us.
God is also pruning us. For too long Christianity in America has been rather comfortable. We have not experienced persecution and it's been fairly easy to 'be' a professing Christian. It is not so easy now as more people are openly hostile to Christianity. In this, we thank God for allowing us the privilege of growing. God uses trials to grow us.
God is also reminding us of the things that are truly important: Christ, the Kingdom, our church, our family, our daily bread, a roof over our head and clothes on our back, so we say, 'thank you, Lord!'
As we approach Thanksgiving, I pray each of us would reflect on His goodness toward us. It is easy to look at 2020 and think 'boy, I'm ready for 2021,' but if we are honest, we don't know what 2021 will bring. It could be even more intense than 2020! One thing we do know: Our Good and Sovereign and All Wise God is in Control and working in and through all things for His glory and our ultimate good, and for the blessing of many. God is at work!
And in this, we say 'thank you.'
Grace to You,
More in Pastor's Blog
April 15, 2021Choosing Faith and Joy in an Age of Fear and Anxiety
April 10, 2021Standing Firm in the Storm
March 29, 2021Why the Resurrection Claim Matters