Give thanks for what?
07 June 2012

Give thanks for what?

 

Whenever I am going through challenging times I am more likely to feel sorry for myself than to give thanks! I recall the verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." and I am merely annoyed at the words. My irreverent conversation with God goes something like this:"Seriously, God? I have so much going on and now you want me to give thanks too? Thanks a lot!" Yet the call to give thanks remains. How do we thank God when we are hurting and what is He asking of us?

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 118:1 We are safe in God's hands. He loves us with an everlasting love and He is good. When we can thank Him for those two facts, they will inform our feelings. It will not be instantaneous, but slowly, our broken hearts will come to rest in His loving heart. We must be gentle with ourselves when we  are suffering; it took Jeremiah time to go through affliction, bitterness, his soul being downcast, and then he was able to say, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:19-23

The way we give thanks is to remember God’s love, compassion and faithfulness. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 we can begin to look for God’s kindness in our lives; He is loving and trustworthy.

 God is asking us to remember His love in the hard times. Giving thanks isn’t for God, it is for us! When we bring Him a sacrifice of praise, then our hearts are healed of so much of the bitterness and hurt that festers in us when we feel we suffer unjustly. Believing that God loves us in the midst of our trials gives us courage to face them. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  (Romans 8:31) If  we believe we  are beloved children of the King of Kings, then our hearts will be able to bear so much more; not easily, but nobly.

St John Chrysostom so beautifully says:

 “Let us bear all things thankfully, be it poverty, be it disease, be it anything else whatever. Let us take care to offer up thanksgiving for all things, and let us bear all things nobly. Are we in poverty? Let us give thanks. Are we in sickness? Let us give thanks. Are we falsely accused? Let us give thanks: when we suffer affliction, let us give thanks. This brings us near to God. Those afflictions draw down mercy, they draw down kindness.”[1]

[1] Chrysostom Homilies on Hebrews Homily XXXIII.8 NPNF114:517