Give ThanksWhat comes to mind when you think of November? Do you think about Thanksgiving or are you like American retailers and immediately jump from Halloween to Christmas? Do you think of Pilgrims and Indians, turkey, or pumpkin pie?

One thing I miss about teaching elementary school is the large celebrations of any and every holiday. Children will embrace them all.

November was always one of my favorite times of year teaching because we talked a lot about the birth of our nation. Many people think Thanksgiving was celebrated as a time to be thankful for coming to a new land with new beginnings; however, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1623 and it was a time to give thanks to God for sending rain and providing a bountiful crop for the settlers.

Governor William Bradford of the Pilgrim colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts proclaimed,

All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill… there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

This holiday began as an opportunity to thank the Lord for His provision. Today, you’ll see people who declare the month of November as a month of thanksgiving. Every day leading up to Thanksgiving day they will post something they’re thankful for on their social media. Most of the things aren’t surprising. People are thankful for:

  • their spouse
  • their children
  • their job
  • their home
  • their friends

I’ve never seen anyone say they’re thankful for financial hardship or illness or the loss of a job. But should we be?

Should we only be thankful when positive things come our way or should we always give thanks to God?

The Apostle Paul seemed to think so. He taught we are to give thanks in all circumstances, not just the ones that go our way. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says,

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Why do you think that is? Why do you think Paul admonishes us to give thanks for everything? Does God know everything that’s going on in your life? If so, then we have to assume He has a purpose in it [Hebrews 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11]. He wastes NOTHING [John 6:12]. Lamentations 3:37 says,

Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?”

So why does He allow us to go through hard times? Why doesn’t He prevent them from happening in the first place? What can difficult situations or circumstances do?

  • Draw us closer to the Lord?
  • Send us to His Word to seek out answers?
  • Bring the Body of Christ together to support us and build community around us?

All of these are good things. All of these things shape us and mold us into the people we’re intended to be on earth.

So, if we know these things, why do we cry out and beg God to take the hard things away? Why don’t we run to them, looking for the blessing hidden inside?

I’ve walked through some hard things, some of them down right scary at times. I can’t say that I’ve embraced them as possible blessings until after the fact. Hindsight is always 20/20. In retrospect, I’ve been able to see the many treasures that have come out of walking through the valley, but what would I have gained if I had started seeking the blessing in the beginning instead of the end? Would I have gleaned more?

These are just some thoughts I had this morning when I read through some posts about things people are thankful for today. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.