This devotional was written by Jim Burns
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. —1 Thessalonians 5:18
Happy Thanksgiving! I love this holiday as it is especially well suited for Christians, for God has blessed us in so many ways through Christ. Yet, for many this has been an especially difficult year. The lingering bad economy has impacted a huge number of lives and families through unemployment, under employment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and shrinking retirement nest eggs.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I sure understand why some people might feel like crying out, “Thanks for what?”! Still, if we are not careful, we might easily slip into a pervasive attitude of negativity. When we choose to focus on the bad experiences of our lives, our shattered dreams, and on our losses, we can become ungrateful and take for granted the many blessings God has given to us, reducing Thanksgiving Day into just another family gathering and meal.
Christians have every reason to be thankful because Jesus Christ was willing to sacrifice his very life in order to set us free from the constraints of sin. Paul explained it this way: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8). We have a special reason to adopt the attitude of gratitude, because we know that whatever comes, our times are in God's hands. It was Jesus who said, in effect, "So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow, too," (see Matthew 6:34).
It was the apostle Paul who said that we should "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." But for many of us, the attitude of thankfulness does not come easy. We've learned from our past to complain our way through most circumstances.
In studying thankfulness I've learned a very helpful idea: Thankfulness is a key that unlocks your depressive emotions. You cannot be both thankful and depressed at the same time. They are opposite emotions. You can be sad, hurt, or angered and still be thankful; but you can't be depressed and still be thankful.
We can't make the decision about whether some of life's negative "stuff' is thrown our way; but we can decide to be thankful, even in the midst of a not-so-perfect world. Deciding to become a thankful person can transform your life!
Thankfulness is an attribute that transcends your circumstances. No matter what your circumstances, I believe there is reason to be thankful in them. Your circumstances may never change, but your attitude toward them can change and that will make all the difference. Today, may you truly experience a happy Thanksgiving!
1. Make a list of reasons you have to be thankful today.
2. Spend some time in prayer, giving God thanks for the items on your list.