This is the season for thankfulness. We think about it because in 1789 President George Washington issued a proclamation for the people of the United States to have a day of thanksgiving. To this day we remain truly blessed among the nations.
But thankfulness is not to be seasonal…it is to be enduring! There are many passages of scripture that tell us to be thankful, such as I Thessalonians 5:18 which says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV) The will of God for us! If we each want to live an overflowing life rather than an overwhelming one, we must embrace gratefulness in all things…both good and bad.
Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” (ESV) Here, the apostle Paul doesn’t say that we’re to be joyful or thankful only in the good times and instead says we’re to always be joyful/thankful. But how can we really do that?
Philippians 4:6 goes on to say, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV)
Gratitude is the healthiest emotion we can foster, and it helps reduce stress and illness. If we are grateful people, we are joyful people. Those who are stuck in a world of ungratefulness are miserable; nothing makes them happy, and nothing is ever good enough.
Being ungrateful can lead us to be anxious and to worry. We have learned since birth how to worry, both from those around us as well as our own experiences. So, we must unlearn worry. Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (ESV) But how do we do this?
Let’s stop opening the umbrella long before it starts to rain. Instead of worrying, let’s use that time to pray. If we each prayed as much as we worried, we’d have a lot less to worry about! We can each take any problem that we face to God. Going back to Philippians 4, in verse 7, Paul says when we pray with thanksgiving that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” He then goes on, in verse 8, to tell us of things to think about that will shape our hearts and minds. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)
As we enter this “season” of thanksgiving, let us each purpose to practice enduring thanksgiving.