Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Give Thanks!

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many of us are especially mindful of the blessings in our lives. I have a friend who is making daily posts on facebook concerning the things for which she is thankful. However, it can be harder for some of us than others to bring those things to mind. You may be going through a difficult time. You may be struggling with grief, loss, sickness, or financial burdens. You may just be one of those people who tend to see their glass as half-empty rather than half-full.

As wives and mothers, we often feel overwhelmed with the many responsibilities that come with these roles. I admit that I have been struggling a lot lately with priorities and meeting all the demands of work and home life. When I come across Scripture, like the above verse from 1 Thessalonians, it can feel more like an impossible mandate than the affirmation I need to give me the strength to keep going. For example, I’ll give you a little view of my personal thought dialog from just yesterday:

“I stayed up until one o’clock this morning writing lesson plans so that Joel and I could go out and spend some time together without the thought of work hanging over my head. What is my reward? My back goes out and I’m searching for a chiropractor who is open on the weekend. Not only is this day, that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks, not going as planned, but how am I supposed to handle the week ahead? I have to come up with a good recipe for chili for the PTL event, and I am certainly not an adept or creative cook. Then I have to find time to make it, figure out how to decorate the table…and what about work? How am I supposed to get up and down off the floor numerous times a day and wrangle preschoolers? How am I supposed to get my house cleaned and ready for Thanksgiving company? And on top of it all, I forgot that I have this devotion to write…really, God? Am I really supposed to give thanks for this?”

Very recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Christian women’s conference meant to uplift and encourage moms. One of the speakers whom I especially enjoyed was Jennifer Rothschild, who went blind at the age of seventeen. As you can imagine, she has had to overcome many challenges throughout her life. One of the audience members in Mrs. Rothschild’s workshop asked her, “Are you thankful for blindness, or are you bitter?” I fully expected her response to be that she was thankful for her blindness. After all, she was there speaking about the lessons she has learned due to her situation. She was there to encourage us. Her answer surprised and struck me. She said that she was neither bitter nor thankful for blindness. However, she was thankful in blindness. Then she quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Wow! What a difference one little preposition makes! I consider myself an educated person with reasonable intelligence, but I have often read this passage and equated the in with a for. I looked it up in five different versions of the Bible, and they all definitely use the two letter word i-n. It is liberating to know that God doesn’t expect me to be thankful for back pain, exhaustion, or disappointment. After all, these things aren’t what God intended for us. They are all consequences of a sinful world. But, I can give thanks in pain, exhaustion, and disappointment because God offers His grace which is sufficient for me. I can be thankful in these circumstances because God works in and through all things for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose.

Dear God, Thank you for the many blessings you pour out on me daily. Allow me to see the unexpected blessings that come through struggle. When I get wrapped up in the circumstances of my here and now, help me to rejoice in the hope and the future you have planned for me.

1 comment:

  1. I have read it for years as you have. Thank you for enlightening a grandma and sharing His Word in your special way.


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