As we look towards Thanksgiving, we tend to think back on this past year. The events that stood out to us. The events we celebrated. The events that drove us to tears. There’s a delightful woman here at Buffalo Prairie EPC who commonly gives thanks for the weather. She gives thanks for the warm sunshine of summer, the colors of the fall, and the beautiful snow of winter. In everything, she finds something to be thankful for. Unconsciously, I believe that there’s a decision embedded within the way that she views life. Anytime something happens, good or bad, we decide whether to react positively or negatively to it. When we get stuck on hold with customer service for an hour, do we get mad that we are there waiting, and waiting? Or, do we find a way to make the best of it? This is the difference that gratitude makes. And this is what the holiday of Thanksgiving is all about.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul is writing about what he is thankful for. He says, “ in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The statement is pretty self explanatory, but the background behind it is fascinating. Paul had founded the church in Thessalonica. He started at the Jewish synagogue, then the house of Jason became an important meeting place for the church. As Paul started to gain momentum within this town, the Jews and officials started to take note of it. In Acts 17, you can see that the Jews started a riot in reaction to Paul. The rioters stormed to Jason’s house. When they couldn’t find Paul, they grabbed Jason instead. Then they took him off to the authorities. While Jason and the Jews were pre-occupied, Paul got out of town. Here, he is writing to this church that he had loved. This church that he had founded. Despite the rough ending, he reminded them to give thanks in everything. Give thanks when you get hauled off to the authorities. Give thanks when you have to sneak out of town. In everything, give thanks.
For us, this can mean that Paul is telling us to give thanks when we get home from a tiring day at work and find out that the kids have made a mess. Give thanks even when finances aren’t balancing. Give thanks whether it is raining, snowing, or the sun is shining outdoors. In all things, give thanks. Is that your attitude of gratitude today? Give thanks.