On this Monday before Thanksgiving, we gather in every corner of the world to fast and pray for men—that God would raise them up and embolden them, for women—that our hearts would be soft clay in God’s hands, and for marriage—that God would give the gift of marriage to those who desire it.
Happy Thanksgiving, FastPrayers!
Even though I know from our blog stats that we have readers all over the world, I wanted to wish you a happy Thanksgiving anyway. Many Americans will be carving huge turkeys, playing football, and stuffing their faces with pumpkin pie later this week, and I wanted to take just a moment to reflect on authentic gratitude. What does it really look like to be thankful?
The Bible has some pretty radical statements about being thankful.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5
I am definitely feeling thankful about some things in my life. I love my job. I have great friends. And, my church is pretty great. But, 1 Thessalonians is pretty clear that God isn’t asking me to just be thankful for the good things or the things that I enjoy or the things that are going well. Paul writes that we are to give thanks in ALL circumstances.
Can I be thankful for the fact that my dating life is essentially non-existent?
Does the Lord expect me to be grateful that I have experienced two deaths in my family this year?
Can I be thankful for feeling lonely?
Is it possible to give thanks without being able to feel thankful?
If you’ve been around FastPray for any length of time, you know that impossible Scriptural commands frequently make me want to pull my hair out and stress eat a bag of Reeses—because I see that huge gap between where I am and where God calls us to be. As I was praying through these issues, I came across this helpful quote from another blogger, in a post entitled, A Practical Theology of “Thank You.” He writes:
I firmly feel that by commanding us to say “thank you” in order to follow His will, God subtly tries to teach us to see things from His perspective. Behind that decidedly small phrase, a whole weight of glorious promises awaits us:
That He will never leave or forsake us. That perfect peace will wrap us round. That, circumstances decidedly notwithstanding, God yet has plans for us, plans to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future. That He continues to rejoice over us with singing, not matter how dark the night or bitter the tears. Than nothing, nothing, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Nothing. And oh, thank God for that.
To me, saying “thank you,” especially when I hardly feel or believe the words coming out of my mouth, serves me as a way to write a check with my lips that only the love of God can cash. It helps me to create with my words a heart at least [able] to acknowledge aloud that loving hands hold me, that Someone knows my name and my circumstance, and that He truly will make all things well, makes all manner of things most well.
So, can I be thankful that I can’t get a date to save my life? Can I say thank you for that holiday loneliness that I feel creeping on? Yes–but only because in God’s grace the faithful practice of saying “thank you” teaches me more than finding myself on a date tomorrow night ever would.
God commands us to give thanks—because He loves to gently shape and form our hearts. He knows where you are and whether or not you have much that you feel like giving thanks for or much that grieves your heart. He wants your thanks because He wants you to remember that He’s good and that He is in control.
You are all in my prayers.