Thanksgiving is, of course, about giving thanks – but have you ever thought about the concept of giving thanks? I’m sure you have given thanks on countless occasions and you realize it is important, but have you ever wondered why it’s important?
Not long ago I was reading my Bible and came across some scripture that stopped me dead in my tracks.
It was Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
At the time, I was going through a difficult situation and as a result, was battling some serious anxiety. The part in the verse about not being anxious and choosing to pray, rocked my world – but not without raising a question – “Why do I need to pray with thanksgiving?”
Furthermore, why does God want me to be thankful in the middle of a crisis? Because being honest, that isn’t exactly the easiest time to give thanks. In fact, it’s kind of inconvenient.
I contemplated on that question and wrestled with God for an answer. Slowly, God began to whisper understanding. I began to realize the fact that God doesn’t need my thankfulness, even though he desires it and most definitely is deserving of it. He doesn’t need anything from me, really.
So, I thought, “if God doesn’t need the benefit of my thankfulness… then maybe it is for my benefit.”
What happens, I believe, is when we enter into the act of giving thanks it causes us to recount all the times God has came through for our good. (Which last time I counted is every single time)
As we participate in giving thanks it builds faith and faith is the kryptonite of fear. When we express thankfulness we begin to remember that we serve a God is who is 100% for our good and His glory. As that realization hits home in our hearts and minds, worry and uncertainty is forced to leave (Philippians 4:7).
Giving thanks supernaturally heals what is broken in our spirits and I think God is pointing us to this reality in 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
The times that we least feel like being thankful is probably when we should be most intentional about giving thanks. Giving thanks during the hard times builds the faith that we need to carry us onto the good times.
When life doesn’t make sense and you are struggling to find direction – give thanks that God has planned good things for your future, not evil. (Jeremiah 29:11)
When you feel overwhelmed, out of control, and out of time – give thanks that God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
When the holiday season isn’t so joyful because it includes the pain of lost loved ones – give thanks that God is near to the broken hearted and crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Every good thing comes from God. Even the very breath you are breathing as you read this is an absolute gift from above. We don’t have to let our circumstances change our thankfulness because our circumstances don’t change the goodness of our God.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”