Thanksgiving is a time that we remember God’s blessings and thank him for his provision. It is a season of abundance and celebration. When we recall the many blessings God has given us, thanksgiving should be a natural response. Although the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in November, our gratitude to God should be ongoing. Not only are we thankful for material blessings, but we should also be thankful for the spiritual blessings that God has given us in Christ Jesus. Paul tells us we should abound in thanksgiving because we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior (v. 6a).
As we consider the gift of salvation, our hearts should rejoice because we recognize that Jesus himself is the anchor of our faith. As we abide in him, our faith is established. Daily reading and meditating on the Word gives us the strength to stand firm despite the challenges we may encounter. One way to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving is by reading the Book of Psalms, especially the Psalms of David.
King David was a praiser at heart. The pattern of his life was to offer praise and thanksgiving to God no matter what was happening in his life. Of the 150 Psalms recorded in the Bible, 74 are attributed to King David. As Israel’s chosen leader, David recognized the importance of keeping God first. More importantly, David recognized the value of giving thanks - acknowledging God as the source of every blessing (1 Chron. 29:16).
Thankful hearts are open and responsive to God. When we contemplate his faithfulness in our lives, we are filled with joy and thankfulness. While it is good to remember God’s blessings in good times, we should also recall how his goodness sustained us in times of adversity.
In every situation [no matter what the circumstances], be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18 AMP).
It is instructive that Paul couches this verse within a list of exhortations to believers who were experiencing troubling and confusing circumstances. The church at Thessalonica comprised Gentile converts who had embraced the message of faith when the church was undergoing intense persecution. False teachers were preaching that Jesus had already come, and they had missed his return. On top of that, many were abandoning the faith altogether.
The situations surrounding them contradicted the message of faith that had been taught. However, amid all the turmoil, Paul encourages them to remain joyful, pray continually, and give thanks, saying that this was God’s will for them. Paul suggests that the hardships they were experiencing provided fertile soil to cultivate their faith. The trials they were experiencing served a greater purpose; therefore, Paul tells them to give thanks in all circumstances.
God wills that we give thanks in everything, not for everything. In our trials, we learn to lean more deeply into our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is in the dark times that we truly experience his love and care. Even if he does not remove the trial, he gives us his peace. Knowing that we do not walk through the difficulty alone gives us the strength to remain faithful and confident (see Ps. 23).
The secret to abounding in thanksgiving is to remember that faith is an essential component of our walk with Christ. As Paul reminded the saints in Colossae, we must always be mindful of our relationship with Christ Jesus. We are “in” him. The life of faith not only begins with Jesus but it is nurtured and sustained by our continual abiding in him. Every trial should increase our dependency on him and cause our faith to grow stronger. When we remain centered in Christ, we can remain steadfast in our faith; moreover, as we reflect on the many ways God has blessed us in Christ, our hearts overflow with praise and gratitude.