November 27, 2014

Thankful For Everything

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When a teacher asked her children what they were thankful for, one little boy replied, “I’m thankful for my glasses.” “Yes,” responded the teacher, “so you can see better, right?” “No,” replied the lad explaining, “it keeps the boys from fighting with me and the girls from kissing me.”

Uh-huh! That little boy looked well beyond the practical aspects of being thankful because glasses enabled him to see. He was also thankful for the fringe benefits often overlooked by those of us who put glasses on in the morning and take them off only when we retire at night.

The paragraph of a letter from an 80-year-old woman was just as telling. She explained that she had struggled with her sight, having had cataract surgery and then glaucoma surgery, and finally lost sight in her left eye. But she wasn’t really complaining. She stated it as a matter of fact. Continuing, she said she was still able to pursue her passion of reading–even for several hours a day. She wrote, “I still have 20-20 vision [in my good eye], and then wrote, “Isn’t God good to me?”

Instead of counting her losses, she counted her blessings. It’s how you look at the circumstances of your life that really counts. Everybody has losses. That’s the result of living in an imperfect, broken world.

A man who knew what it was to be imprisoned unjustly, to be beaten and left for dead, to face not only one but several trials on “trumped up” charges, wrote to friends in a fellowship in the Greek city of Thessalonica. He advised, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

A lesson that few have really learned is that Paul didn’t say, “Thank God for everything that happens to you,” but rather, “in every situation” or “in every set of circumstances thank Him that He is able to redeem the difficulty and help you to come out on the other side with rejoicing.”

It’s the attitude of a carpenter whose life had taken on an aura of joyfulness since he had been converted. His life changed, and along with that, his language changed dramatically. A fellow carpenter, somewhat annoyed with the changes in his friend, watched rather smugly as the man hit his thumb with a hammer. Before the man’s conversion, the friend knew what he would have said. But this time the carpenter rubbed his smarting thumb and said, “Well, thank God I’ve still got some thumb left.”

It’s attitude that makes the difference. It’s the acknowledgement that others are on the team, that you couldn’t have made the sales without the undergirding of your office staff, that you owe your success to the efforts of other people, that no matter how dark the clouds, there is a silver lining, that every dark valley has an end, that every long night is followed by a dawn, and that everything but eternity is eventually over.

I am reminded that Paul says ingratitude was one of the major sins of those whom God eventually gave up on. He wrote, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

How is it with you, friend? Have the not-so-cheerful circumstances of life robbed you of the joy which comes with an attitude of gratitude?

Take time to reflect on those words in 1 Thessalonians 5, and use them as a benchmark to measure your attitude. Paul was right on target: “In everything give thanks….” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV).

Resource reading: 1 Thessalonians 5.