In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. KJV
I heard a snap, then the handle gave way and the bucket of rocks and shells I was carrying zeroed in on my big toe. The sharp pain in my foot and the first signs of blood told me this was going to be a game changer. As I quickly limped into the house calling out to my wife for help, I was definitely not thanking God. After she drove as fast as she could to the hospital, the only humorous moment came while I sat bent over in the wheelchair holding my foot as the security guard searched me for weapons at the door!
Thankfully, the x-rays revealed nothing was broken but one thing was certain; like it or not, my plans were going to change. As we road home that night, rather than complain, my wife began to slowly list all the things we should be thankful for. First, we had insurance to pay for the emergency room, second, we I had received wonderful care from the health aide who washed the wound, the nurse who joked with me while she gave a tetanus shot and the doctor who gently encouraged me that my injury should heal with no complications. Compared to our daughter-in-law’s cancer or our grandchild’s kidney failure my problem was infinitesimally small, but the lesson was huge. Thankfulness is not something we always do alone. Even Paul had Silas with him when they sang praises in jail. Few of us in the middle of pain, grief or loss have the ability to honestly say “Thank you Jesus! I’m so happy right now!”. There are times when the best thing we can do is to lean on one another as together we learn to give God praise.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV
“Have you written a thank you note yet?” Mom inevitably asked every year right after Christmas. Talk about writer’s block: After I had penned a heartfelt “Thank you for the cap gun.” to my grandparents, I was completely out of ideas. But as word painfully followed word in those brief literary tomes, I slowly learned to be grateful for people who had loved me enough to send me a gift.
In Ephesians the Apostle Paul sounds a little like my mom. He wants to make sure that the Ephesian believers learn how to be thankful, to God and to express their gratitude by praise.“Great!” You might respond; “But I already do that in church.” Well, yes corporate worship is important; however thank you notes need to be written individually. If personal worship seems intimidating, Paul gives us three clues on how to begin. Just as my childhood thank you notes began with the basics, so praise can start with simply speaking to God with the familiar words of Psalms and hymns. That speaking can be like setting a tea pot on to boil. Little by little the temperature rises and bubbles begin to form. Those bubbles become songs that form in our hearts and begin to flow out in melodies towards God. But if you leave that tea pot on long enough you will begin hear a loud whistle. That is when our melodies turn to joyful thanksgiving to God for all He has done and given us in Christ. That it is the very best thank you note of all!
My wife came across an interesting sign that asked the question, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for today? After we shared Communion tonight I began to ask myself, “What if next Sunday we only had the people for whom we thanked God for today?”
Maybe our church and yours would have a lot less empty seats if we wete grateful for one other rather than complaining. ( I confess to being one of those!) Maybe if we began to truly appreciate the people who do come to our services God could help us to grow and then He would get the credit!
1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.
I would be willing to bet big money that when the apostle Paul visited the folks couldn’t wait to get to church! When was the last time you couldn’t wait to get to church? I am taking the thankfulness challenge this week. Anyone care to join me? Let’s give thanks for as many people as we can remember starting tomorrow. Let’s give thanks and ask God to have His way in their lives and ours, then wait and see what He will do!