Whatever State You are In Today
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:11 NKJV
So what state did you wake up in? Red, blue, maybe a little purple?
Sometimes I wonder why the Apostle Paul had to go and be such a cheerful-earful in his every state.So what state did you wake up in? Red, blue, maybe a little purple? Click To Tweet
He suffered persecution, shipwreck, sleepless nights, need and oh yes, prison. Still, thankfulness threaded through all those states.
I mean, really, can thankfulness 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.
Paul’s incessant thanksgiving repeats itself about 40 times in his writings. He drills it over and over again. “Be thankful.”
Purposeful thanksgiving has less to do with how I feel, more to do with what I believe.
But what if I’m not feeling thankful? What if my heart is sad? How can I be grateful when life is unjust, when my work is unrewarded, when bad things happen?
Joy, the kind Paul speaks of is more than a sentiment. It did not hinge on circumstance for Paul, nor should it for us.
“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself,” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1: 8 ESV. He acknowledges life was not rosy. He felt sorrow and sadness, yet despite all of it, he learned an inner contentment. His thanksgiving grew by choosing to rejoice in the One to whom all praise continually belongs.
Purposeful thanksgiving has less to do with my circumstances, more to do with Whom I trust.
Thankfulness is birthed from faith in a Sovereign God who knows exactly what He is doing and always acts from a character that is good, wise and holy. Trust believes beyond sight to the One Who sees all, and does what if right. Always and in every situation.
Purposeful thanksgiving reveals a perspective rooted in obedience to the Word.
In fact, according to Paul, not being thankful signaled a decline into unbelief.
“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21 NKJV
In 2 Timothy 3:2, Paul lists “unthankfulness” along with proud, blasphemers, unholy and unloving plus a bunch of other rotten behaviors, as one of the characteristics of those living in the last days.
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 experienced extraordinary miracles of God. Yet, it was never enough to satisfy. They complained and in their dissatisfaction, they did not believe God to be enough.
Oh how I dislike seeing myself in them.
I have my own rise and fall of gratitude and complaining. I too get on a cycle of grumpy dissatisfaction.
As we enter November, the season of giving thanks, I’m glad there is an official day coming to pause and think of things for which to be grateful. To be perfectly honest, I could use Thanksgiving Day a few more times per year. I need a reminder to be grateful in every state I’m in.
So what do we do when Thanksgiving has fled our state? Move from the state of “what” or “why” to Who.
- Replace focus.
- Purpose to center gratitude on Jesus.
- Look to His character and Sovereignty.
- Give thanks.
Want a week’s worth of thanksgiving reminders leading to Thanksgiving Day?
Here are seven past posts to inspire gratitude during this season: