The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts…nevertheless, [they] set aside a day of thanksgiving.
– H. W. Westermeyer
The Pilgrims revealed an example of extreme gratitude toward God for all that He had done for them. Their situation was bleak but their God was amazing. There was more than enough reason to offer thanks to God.
The word thanksgiving literally means to give thanks. This means that we show our gratitude for the things that we are blessed with. We need to be thankful at all times and in all circumstances. The real question on our minds is not whether we should be thankful but who we need to be thankful to. The Hebrew word for thanks means to make public.
Biblical Examples of extreme gratitude
Job praised God even after he lost everything
David praised God even when Saul was trying to kill him
Mary, the mother of Jesus, praised God for being the earthly mother of Jesus
The disciples praised God for being beaten by the Sanhedrin because they were worthy of suffering for Christ
Paul and Silas praised God from their prison cell in Philippi
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
Being Thankful is an attitude (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians with three clear practices to help personal and spiritual growth. Each day we should experience joy, peace and thanks.
When we have a personal relationship with Jesus; there is a joy that nothing can take away. We experience that joy on a daily basis. Prayer is the means we continue the relationship with God. Prayer becomes our point of connection with Christ. Through prayer, we speak with God and experience His divine presence. Paul finishes these three needed behaviors with thanksgiving. We need to live with a daily attitude of thankfulness because of all the blessings that God gives us.
Is it possible to be thankful in all circumstances? Can we be thankful for evil situations, trials, and tragedies?
Bad things happen to good, godly people every day. Paul does not say we should be thankful for bad things or evil situations. Notice what Paul said: be thankful in all circumstances. There is never a time when we should be thankful for evil. However, we can be thankful in difficult times. We are to be thankful in bad situations not for them. As Christians, we know that life has its share of hard times but we also know that Christ is with us through those hard times. No matter what life may throw at us, Christ is with us.
We can be victorious in the midst of hardships and trials. Listen to what Jesus told the disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Jesus brings us His victory over the world. He brings us the spirit of overcoming.
Being thankful is an action (Colossians 3:17)
We should have the desire to live in a manner that brings honor to the name of Christ. Thankfulness means that we are different because of God’s blessings. Is your life different since you have known Christ?
We cannot say that we are thankful for God’s blessings and then constantly complain. We cannot say we are thankful for salvation and continue to walk in sin. We cannot say that we are thankful for the church and never attend. Thankfulness is revealed by the way we act. Our behavior demonstrates our gratitude toward God. We choose our behaviors and everyday we make a choice to be grateful or to be ungrateful.