by David Ferraro
“…give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
GARDEN CITY, MI – If you’re like many people, you may find it challenging to heed Paul’s admonition here to “give thanks in everything”. People often struggle to express gratitude in our attitude from day to day - this year is no exception. You may feel like the year 2020 can’t end soon enough! And yet God desires that we would give thanks even for 2020! So, let me suggest a few ways that we can learn to trust the Lord more with this command to give thanks in everything.
True gratitude is a heart condition. Gratitude comes through the personal awareness of what God has done. Believers know God’s gift of grace through his Son, Jesus Christ, but we can still become short-sighted, forgetful and ungrateful.
All of us can become overly busy and neglect to pause, rest and remember what God has done. We need rest. Rest teaches us this reality - the Lord is God and we are not! When we rest from our labors, we can see more clearly all that God continues to do without us. Resting places us in a posture to learn gratitude. We can see God’s wisdom in giving us the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Supper as opportunities to remember Him and express our gratitude. How are you taking time to rest and reflect?
Gratitude comes as we recognize God’s grace in every situation that we are in. The kingdom of God has come in Christ – He is reigning today! Rather than looking with a critical eye at what we think may be wrong, we learn gratitude when we look for the grace of God at work in making all things new. In every situation we can look for God at work. We can see the people God has placed in our lives and how he is drawing people to salvation and growing them in faith. We can look at our unique situation as an opportunity God has entrusted to us. We can view resources we have as treasures to make eternal investments. Resist the temptation to dwell on what is wrong or to criticize what you feel may be wrong. Remember to answer the question, “Where is God working?”
Gratitude comes when we take time to acknowledge progress. We can fall into discouragement when our goals or expectations are not realized. While we make mistakes along the way, remember that God does not. Acknowledge to God and to others how you see God working for your good, the good of his people even in difficult circumstances or unrealized expectations. When you reflect on a day, week or year answer the question, “What went well?”
Amidst this pandemic many have experienced heightened isolation, yet we know we are called by God into community and cooperation. Amidst the challenges, make every effort you can to continue to maintain your relationships in the body of Christ and forge new ones. Working for the Lord with others allows us to see how God has gifted other people in the body of Christ, and gives us occasion to thank God for his wisdom in gifting each one uniquely according to His will.
I thank God for you as co-laborers in the Gospel across Michigan! Trust God to give thanks in all things so that you might experience His will to receive the blessing of seeing how He is working in the world from day to day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Ferraro is husband to his bride Becky and father of 7 super kids. He serves as Pastor of Discipleship of Merriman Road Baptist Church in Garden City, MI and also as Coaching Champion for Send Detroit.