Many times, the Thanksgiving season comes with thankfulness for the good things, but if your like me, you’ve also had to endure hard times or suffering through out the years. As a Christian, God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
How and why should we be thankful when everything around us seems to be going wrong? As Christians, we know that this world is not our final destination and when we go through suffering or hard times, it should make us long for heaven. II Timothy 4:18 says, “Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.”
We can also be thankful in rough waters because it gives us a sense of how much Jesus loved us to voluntarily lay down His life for us, through death on a cross, to give us eternal life and forgiveness from all of our sins. Romans 8:17 says, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
A third way we can be thankful when it’s dark outside, is because we know that through darkness we can learn to encourage and love others, giving them light, when they are having trouble seeing. It is through suffering that we learn to feel the depth of other people’s pain or feel empathy for them. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Finally, through the pain, we gain the comfort that God provides and we learn to depend on him for everything. 2 Corinthians 1:7 says, “We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.” Feeling the hand of God hold you and hug you close when you are going through lonliness, grief, illness, disease, anxiety over troubling times, loss of job, and everything in between will bring you to the other side with new perspective, and an added badge of courage.
Pain can sometimes lead to depression if we are not dependant on God to give us a heart for dealing with our pain. Years ago, living in a foreign country, I was depressed and lonely, feeling as if I had no-one. Out of this experience, I met a wonderful woman, over the phone, who counseled me from another country. She encouraged me to read Psalms and Proverbs daily and to journal one thing everyday that I was thankful for. Then, I was to pray and thank God for these items. As I added to my “thanksgiving” list daily, my prayer time increased. The time in “thanksgiving” prayer went from about from one minute to about 30 minutes in a few weeks. Over the next few months, my depression lifted as I realized that I had believed a lie from Satan that I had nothing to be thankful for. My suffering brought me to my knees and made me a more gracious person. I have remembered this therapy and used it over the years when “life happens” and my mind wanders away from my Savior.
So, this Thanksgiving, no matter what life brings you, remember God loves you, and remember to be thankful for the good and for the “not so good”. If you want to make a list, here’s a good one to start with: Be thankful for the air that you breathe, the breath that is within you, and your automatic response to that breath! All of those things are only possible because of our Father God who loves us and who created us for a purpose, on purpose!
Happy Thanksgiving 2016