Hope In The Dark: Being Thankful In All Circumstances
The season of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to do an honest evaluation of your gratitude meter. The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when we are encouraged to give thanks, making it the best time to reflect on God’s faithfulness in this past year and all the years before. We gather with those we love, break bread, and give thanks to the Lord above for all He has done and all He will do. Giving thanks is not a seasonal activity. It is easy at Thanksgiving to express gratitude for the things in your life. It is much harder, especially for those who are suffering, who are facing trials in their lives. How can we be thankful, how can we be content in those and all other circumstances?
Something To Talk About:
In many countries a special day is set aside each year for thanksgiving. But for the Christian, every day can be a day of thanksgiving, as we are to “…give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20) Here are five reasons to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness even in the midst of trials and heartaches:
- The grace God shows me: No matter what our circumstances, we should not let a day go by when we don’t thank God for His grace. What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to die on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- The plans God has for me: God has big plans for each of us follow Him. He knows perfectly well that we are not exactly the best material to work with, yet He promises to make something completely new out of me. And He has a plan to do just that. The fact is, God made us. He fashioned us, loves us and knows what is best for each one of us. He wants your life to be filled with the best life has to offer. We simply need to trust His plan for our life even in bad circumstances.
- God’s promise to never leave me: “…For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). God will never leave us no matter what the reason; not for our sin, our selfishness, stubbornness, or when we draw away from Him in times of trouble. Regardless of where you live, where you travel to, and what you do, God is there. For you. David writes about this in Psalm 139:2-3: “You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.” God watches over you, He strengthens you. He loves you and therefore He will never let you be alone and that is something to be thankful for.
- The changes God is making in me: Being in the the middle of a trial is painful. It’s painful, disorienting, and confusing. And we often fail to see how these trials are good for us. There has to be better ways to get our attention and make any changes we need to make. God does not accidentally let trials slip into our lives. He has a purpose. Every trial we experience has been handcrafted by God for our good. We are the clay, He is the master potter. Every difficulty in your life, whether big or small, is something God will use to produce more strength, faith and perseverance in you. All your pain has a purpose “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
- The home that God has prepared for me: In the midst of trials, we should remember the world is our temporary world. We have tremendous hope for this life and and the promise of eternity with our risen Savior. He is preparing a place for us. “ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3 NIV) As God’s people, we should long for heaven. We should be ever-motivated by the anticipation of heaven. Heaven and all that it represents should be a central object of our attention in this life. Our hearts and minds are to be continuously set on these “things above” where Christ is in heaven, not on “earthly things.”
- Thankfulness is the one of the essential qualities of being a Christian: agree or disagree and why?
- What do you think causes us to neglect thankfulness in personal relationships? Why do we neglect being thankful to God?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18. How is it that Christians can be thankful in all circumstances – even in the really difficult times?
- Read Psalm 100: What reasons does the Psalm give for being thankful?
- What are some of the changes we can expect to see both personally and as a church, when we develop a lifestyle that overflows with thankfulness?
- In priority order, list the top ten things you are thankful for?
- What part of this message touched you. Why?
- What can we do this week to be more thankful to God?
Take one thing home with you:
Thankfulness Changes Our Hearts
When you give thanks regularly, God changes your heart. The more you thank God, the more you will begin to see all the reasons to thank God. As you move from thanking God just for the good to thanking him in all circumstances, you will experience more of the life God intended for you. Soon, you will trust Him more than ever before as you see His hand on everything in life.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)