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
As the last bit of fall evaporates and ushers in winter, I can't resist posting these beautiful photos I took when I was at Shiloh last. The colors were stunning and gloriously vivid. I'm partial to my Minnesota falls with the blazing reds and oranges, but I must say, Idaho is its equal in terms of brilliance. The glowing yellows boast a beauty all their own and line the St. Joe River with autumn flair. It is breathtaking!
As Thanksgiving approaches, it's common practice to reflect on our blessings and what we're thankful for. A tradition in our home at our Thanksgiving feast is to individually go around the table and share what we're thankful for. Typical responses include: friends, family, our home, pets, food, etc. It's easy to thank God for the blessings that are near and dear to our hearts in the holiday season. Thanksgiving can feel very "Hallmark-ish" when we get together with our loved ones and focus on our blessings that are right there in front of us. The beauty of the feast itself in all its splendor, the harvest decorations (or Christmas for some of us) delighting our eyes and senses, and the general ambiance of the holiday softens our hearts and conjures up gratitude from within. But what about the rest of the year? How grateful am I when I hear the events of the day? How thankful am I really when I see our country and world spiraling downward in chaos and turmoil? Am I really supposed to be thankful in the midst of suffering through a trial, health issue, or relationship crisis?
Paul tells us that we are to give thanks in ALL circumstances-that this is God's will for us. So no matter what major crisis or trial is unfolding, we are encouraged to be thankful. Notice how before that, we are to rejoice always, pray continually, and then to give thanks in all circumstances. Perhaps these actions proceed as the prelude to a thankful heart-softening it through praise and prayer that then leads to thankfulness. This seems like a sensible formula to bring forth gratitude in even those most difficult times of life.
What a great way to change the crusty mindset we can get into when we are discouraged, upset, and angry about the negative external circumstances around us.
This serves as a helpful reminder to me when I'm beginning to feel the tug of ungratefulness in my heart and mind: Are you going through a valley? Rejoice! Are you in the middle of a severe medical condition? Pray continuously! Are you feeling down in the dumps about our world and the state of our nation? Give thanks! God is on the throne!
Paul is telling us that a heart of gratitude is not dependent on our circumstances or dire situations, nor is it being ignorant that life can get pretty bad sometimes. After all, he was beaten, imprisoned, mocked, and ridiculed throughout his ministry. He understands trials! And yet, in spite of our troubles, we have a God who loves us, cares for us, and is always there for us. That is in and of itself something to be thankful for. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death seasons, He's there preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. He will be your anchor and safe place of refuge if you only invite Him in. The things of this world will one day pass, seasons will change, and trials will come and go. The attitude of gratitude can be either won or lost in the process-that is up to us. We get to choose. I choose gratitude knowing that the Lord has a plan and is in control of my life, my family and this world! I choose to rejoice, pray continuously and give thanks for this is His will for His people. Being thankful is a choice and an action, most difficult when times are tough. Be open to seeing the goodness of God around you and thanking Him daily for all He's done for us-especially His gift of Jesus Christ who died for us and offers us eternal life! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and thank you for the many ways you all support and encourage the ministry of Protectors' Peak! We are continuously humbled and appreciate the various ways you all serve our servants. We are honored to partner with you and we thank God for you!