1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
I’ve been thinking the past few days about thankfulness, being in the holiday season (specifically Thanksgiving). I think it’s great that everyone seems to be so optimistic and happy as they count their blessings. But I’ve been realizing that thankfulness and joy are not just things that are to be displayed in the Christians life during these seasons, but they are supposed to be a constant state of being and position of the heart, ("rejoice always", and "in everything give thanks”).
Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies. He told them that even “sinners”, or those who were outside God’s family love those who are lovable. Those who do good to you are easy to do good back to. Those who show love to you are easy to show love back to. But Jesus challenged our love by telling us not just to love those who do good to us and who love us, but also our enemies; those who spite us or persecute us or do evil to us. The real test of love is whether or not we can love in those situations, when it’s extremely hard to do so.
So I’ve been thinking about how this concept applies to more than just love, but also to things such as thankfulness and joy. It’s easy to be thankful and joyful when we remember all of our blessings. Most of us have family, cars, money, jobs, houses, clothes, freedoms, and the list goes on. But like Job, would we still exude joy and thankfulness and worship towards God if those things were taken away? Our thankfulness is tested when life isn’t going great, or when we’re going through trial; when it seems there’s nothing to be thankful for. And we can only pass that test if our joy is in something that never changes: God.
Being thankful and exuding joy are things that don’t come naturally or easily to me. I can much more easily have a nasty attitude than a joyful one. But the Lord has been teaching me to remember where my joy and thankfulness should be rooted in. Not anything in this life, but in Him alone. Truly knowing God is our reward. When I abide in Jesus and in His words and spend time in prayer, meditation and worship, my whole outlook is changed. I’m able to experience true joy and to be thankful. And that is what pushes out the bad attitudes or the ungrateful attitudes.
Remember to spend time in prayer and thanksgiving this season so that the presence of God can produce true joy and thankfulness in your heart. We have so many blessings and so much to be thankful for, but truly above all we should find our gratitude and thankfulness in Jesus and in simply knowing Him!