Can thankfulness really be commanded?
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18 (NASB)
Well, yes, apparently it can.
It is the season of giving thanks. I’m glad there is an official day to pause and think of things for which to be grateful, but to be perfectly honest, I could use Thanksgiving Day a few more times per year. I need the reminder.
From the Old Testament to the New, Scripture is filled with the admonition to be thankful, the concept is spoken of over 160 times. Paul drilled thankfulness into his writings over 40 times. It must be important.
The Israelites in the wilderness are a convicting example of thank-less-ness. Like a yo-yo they bounced from exultation and praise to grumbling and complaining. They witnessed Aaron’s supernatural rod. A breathtaking pillar of cloud and fire led them. The mighty hand of God parted the Red Sea, and manna covered the ground when they were hungry. They experienced extraordinary life changing miracles of God. Yet, it was never enough to satisfy. They craved more, and in their dissatisfaction, they did not believe God to be enough. They complained.
Oh how I dislike seeing myself in them.
I have my own rise and fall of gratitude and griping.
But what if I’m not feeling thankful? How can I be grateful when life is unjust, when my work is unrewarded, when bad things happen? Is it possible to pull thanks over myself like a tight turtleneck sweater? Contrived thankfulness is irritating, easy to spot and insincere, like the ever smiling face of a painted clown.
Purposeful thanks, has little to do with how I feel, much more to do with what I believe.
Thankfulness is birthed from trust in a Sovereign God who knows exactly what He is doing and who always acts from a character that is good, wise and holy.
The choice is ongoing. Will I or will I not believe what I know to be true?
God is Sovereign over the events of my life. I don’t understand it. I don’t have to.
“I choose to believe,” albeit through clenched teeth, is the foundation to “I choose to be thankful.”
As I list my blessings over a fat turkey, in a warm home and amid a circle of shiny smiling little faces, Lord help me go deeper. Remind me of Your character which is daily my stronghold where no hesitations reside. Help me with every breath I take to trust wholly that You are Who you claim to be regardless of happy or sad, triumph or failure, trouble or calm.
And make me thankful.
Because I need your nudging. I need your reminder again.
You are my celebration.