Giving Thanks In Every Situation

by Tom Wacaster

Once again we are approaching that one day in the year which our government leaders of a bygone era set aside in order to emphasize thanksgiving to our Creator for His abundant blessings.  As God’s children, we realize that the giving of thanks is not an annual, but a daily part of our lives.   Perhaps it would be good this Thanksgiving Day to include the following petition in our prayer before sitting down to eat:  “God, please grant us one more blessing…a thankful heart.” 

Permit me to share with you two stories that have been in my files for more than 25 years.  The first of these tells about a circuit-riding preacher of a hundred years ago who was asked to ride miles out of his way to hold services in a church known for being tightfisted.  His text was 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The minister preached an eloquent sermon on gratitude and stressed the need of finding a sense of thanksgiving in every situation of life.  At the close of the service, the minister passed his wide-brimmed hat for the collection. It came back empty. He turned it upside down, and then shook it, but nothing came out. As the preacher began his benediction, the congregation wondered what he could give thanks for. “Father in Heaven,” the minister prayed good naturedly, “I thank thee for many things, but especially for getting my hat back.”

Our second story comes out of the life of Matthew Henry, the well known Bible commentator.  Mr. Henry was a cheerful man, and reportedly of easy temperament. Once, when he discovered a thief had stolen his purse, he turned to his diary and entered this observation: “Let me be thankful first, because he never robbed be before; second, because although he took my purse he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

It is often difficult to find a blessing in trials and tribulation.  The problem that we face in our affluent society is that we often mistake our luxuries for necessities, and mere inconveniences as severe trials.  There is a therapeutic value to gratitude. Being grateful for the beauty of life in any and every circumstance will help us bear the burden of the moment and lift us up to face our tomorrows with a deeper appreciation for what we DO have, rather than fret over what we may have lost. 

Of course it is much easier to give thanks in times of peace and prosperity.  But at the same time there is a greater danger in affluent times to forget to give thanks.  Though given as a warning to Old Testament Israel, the truth contained in Deuteronomy 8:10-11 is fitting: “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.”

Should our Lord return in our life time may we be of such a frame of mind that He will find us giving thanks in any and every situation.  We hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day!