Editors note: Last week our family celebrated a blessed Thanksgiving together in Tennessee. It was the first time we ever did a "destination" family vacation/holiday. The advantage of this was nobody's house got trashed by the mere presence of 28 people. In that I didn't have opportunity to post a blog the day after Thanksgiving, I have decided to give you a Bible study along the lines of thankfulness this week.
Sometimes in life you just don't feel like being thankful. Humanly speaking, the trials of life tend to make us think there is nothing to be thankful for. Yet, as Christians, we are not to live our lives according to our feelings but rather by FAITH. This thanksgiving season, we would do well to remember that important truth. Let us focus on some examples of those who were thankful even in the midst of very trying times.
In 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest of their crops with a Thanksgiving Dinner--this in spite of the fact that many of their number had died the previous winter and were absent from the table. God was praised for His goodness and America was born.
In 1863, President Lincoln issued a declaration calling for a national day of Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November), even though he, and the nation, was in the middle of a terrible civil war!
Daniel the prophet was destined to be thrown into a lion's den, according to the king's decree, because of his faith in God and his consistent prayer life. The Bible tells us that even "when the writing was signed Daniel knelt on his knees in his chamber and prayed three times each day, and gave thanks to God, as he did aforetime" (Dan. 6:10). Who would think of thanking God when on their way to their execution?
Jonah, the runaway prophet, was swallowed by a whale as part of God's chastisement for his disobedience. Yet even in his great distress, as he called out to God in repentance from the belly of the great fish, he did so with thanksgiving. Can you imagine that? (See Jonah 2:9) Who would think of thanking God from inside the prison of a whale's belly?
The Apostle Paul stood on the deck of a sinking ship in Acts 27 and promised all the sailors that their lives would be spared, according to God's Word. Then he did an amazing thing. He said: "I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival. And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all (Acts 27:35). Who would dream of thanking God when your ship is sinking into the sea?
But perhaps the greatest example of all was none other than Jesus, on the night before His crucifixion. In the presence of the disciples, He broke the bread, knowing full well that it represented the tearing apart of His flesh the very next day. Then He took the cup, knowing it was the "New Testament in My blood", and "gave thanks" (Matt. 26:27). Yes, Jesus was able to thank God even as He was headed to the cross.
So let us learn to be thankful, not just in the good times of life, but in the hard times too. Practice the admonition of I Thes. 5:18, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you".