Thanksgiving is almost here and you may be thinking there isn’t a lot to be thankful for. I’ve certainly been feeling that way. After all, 2020 has taken and taken and taken.
Everyone has lost something. Lost health. Lost wages. Lost loved ones. In many ways, COVID put our lives on hold. We’ve struggled with isolation, fear, and uncertainty. Add on the non-COVID difficulties of life and this has been a year we just want to forget.
Although you may just want to skip Thanksgiving this year, it’s more important than ever that we give God our praise and gratitude.
Thanking God in Hard Times
Trials, difficulty, and persecution filled the apostle Paul’s life. Yet he not only purposefully practiced thanksgiving he also called the church to a constant attitude of gratitude even in times of difficulty. For instance, when the church in Thessalonica suffered persecution, Paul wrote:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV
And from prison in Rome, Paul encouraged the Philippians:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV
Paul knew that even when our physical circumstances are dire, God is present and God is working for our good and His glory. Purposefully focusing on giving Him thanks opens the door to joy and peace even in the midst of heartache and struggle. (See “Thankful Even Now.”)
Why Should We be Thankful?
Several Hebrew and Greek words are translated as “thank,” “thanks,” and “thanksgiving” in the Bible. However, they all reflect the truth that our good God deserves the gratitude and praise of His people. Thankfulness is the right response to God and His grace in our lives.
God wants our thanksgiving and commands us to be thankful. He doesn’t need anything from us but He does expect us to respond to who He is and what He does with gratitude.
I don’t need the bulls you sacrifice; I don’t need the blood of goats. What I want instead is your true thanks to God; I want you to fulfill your vows to the Most High. Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. Psalm 50:13-15, NLT
We don’t deserve anything, yet God provides. We don’t deserve forgiveness or salvation, yet God extends it. Every good thing in our lives is an act of grace from our loving and merciful heavenly Father. Even strength and endurance in times of difficulty are grace gifts from God.
Giving thanks to God for His mercy and kindness is a blessing and a privilege. It shifts our attitude and makes us more aware of God’s activity in our lives. It humbles us and allows us to see just how truly great our God is! (See “God is Good Even in Loss.”)
A Thanksgiving Guide
We may all feel a little rusty when it comes to thanking and praising God. So, I’ve put together a 15-day Thanksgiving Guide. It will take you from today through the end of November. Use the Scriptures and prompts to thank God for what He provides and how He works in your life and the world. The day’s Scripture passage can be read before you pray or as part of your prayer. Pray quietly by yourself, with your family, or both!
Let’s give each other some prompts for thanksgiving now! Share something to praise or thank God for in the comments!