Sometimes worship and thanksgiving can be a sacrifice. That may be because we are down or depressed or things aren't going all that well for us. Maybe hardship or tragedy has struck our lives in some way and we don't want to thank God.
Yet the Bible urges us to give thanks to the Lord. Psalm 106:1 says, "Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (NKJV). We are told in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (NKJV). And Hebrews 13:15 says, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
We are not told to give thanks to the Lord because we feel good; we are to give thanks to the Lord because He is good.
As we approach God to ask for new blessings, we should never forget to say thank you for the blessings already given. We should be just as definite in returning thanks as we are in requesting help. But many times we aren't. We are quick to ask for help, but we are slow in giving thanks.
Sometimes this can be difficult, because we feel as though we have been dealt a bad hand in life or there are things that have happened to us that we don't understand. But here is something we need to remember: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This verse doesn't say give thanks in some things or in what you think are the good things. It says to give thanks in everything.
Now I can give thanks when something wonderful happens to me. But when something bad happens, I think, I won't give thanks for that. Yet I don't know that we ever will fully know what was good or bad in our lives until much later. I would even suggest that what you are thinking of as a bad thing today may turn out to be a good thing tomorrow or down the road. And what you have thought of as a good thing may, in time, turn out to be a bad thing. As you look back in time, you will be able to say that the Lord knew what He was doing.
I lived with my grandparents for a number of years, whom I called Mama Stella and Daddy Charles. My grandmother was an amazing cook. She never reheated anything, and I don't think she had ever seen a TV dinner (and wouldn't be interested in one if she had). She made everything from scratch, including the best fried chicken I've ever tasted. But the crowning achievement of my grandmother's cooking was her biscuits. Once you started eating them, you couldn't stop. In watching my grandmother make them, it appeared to be such a simple process. But no one could quite make it work like her. The ingredients were simple: vegetable oil, self-rising flour, and of course, some buttermilk. No ingredient she used was appealing to me on its own. But she would blend it all together and then put it into a very hot oven. And when she took those biscuits out, the results were good. Really good.
In the same way, God will take the events of our lives, the good things and the so-called bad things, and put them in the oven of adversity. Then when it is all done, sometimes much later, we will realize that it is good. What may seem bad today actually may be good tomorrow. So we need to trust God.
To give thanks, we must recognize that God is in control of all circumstances surrounding our lives. We must realize that God loves us and is always looking out for our eternal benefit, even if what we are presently going through is difficult. And we must remember that God is wiser than we are. He is always dealing with us for our best and eternal good. But sometimes what is good for us eternally is not easy for us temporarily. God will make that decision and work in our lives.
There is so much to give thanks for. Have you been thanking God? Don't wait until Thanksgiving Day. For the Christian, every day should be Thanksgiving.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!