Thanksgiving was not just a November holiday in the Rice home when I was a child. Daddy and Mother found reasons to praise the Lord every day, all day. Even when they encountered major setbacks, when the church they had sacrificed so much for burned to the ground, when dear friends turned away from them, when my sister Grace was given 18 months to live—they sturdily endured faithfully and thanked God. I saw them accept God’s will even when it seemed harsh. They beautifully illuminated First Thessalonians 5:18 for me:
In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Usually, I don’t have a problem with this Scripture.
Last week, the people who mow my lawn left a gate open and my little dachsund got out into the street. But a kind neighbor phoned, and I rescued her without harm. How easy then it was to thank God for His care of Schatzi.
Last month my hot water heater sprang a leak. A visiting friend heard the noise I coultn’t hear, called her plumber brother, who told her how to turn it off to avert disaster. Almost before I knew how bad the situation was, my hvac people had installed a new water heater, and God had given me the money to pay for it. How easily thankfulness welled up in my heart for God’s faithfulness.
A couple of weeks ago I hit a piece of angle iron on the highway, and put two huge holes in a tire. My cell phone was dead, so I couldn’t call my road service for help. But within an hour, strangers had fixed my tire, and I was back home. How very grateful I was for God’s so “very present” help.
But give thanks in everything?
Give thanks to God when our precious oldest grandson, a stalwart follower of Christ, died of leukemia just before his 36th birthday?
Give thanks? When one of my beloved children was a prodigal eating husks in the “far country”?
Give thanks? When a dream I’d worked toward for a lifetime was suddenly and irrevocably shattered?
Yes. In everything give thanks. Why? Because this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. God Himself willed it for me. And I can trust my God, because He has proved to me over and over again His unchanging love, His deep wisdom, His great power. Do I have a right to know the “why”? No, because even if He explained it all to me, my human mind would not be able to comprehend it.
So yes, this thanksgiving season, I will give thanks in everything, no matter how bleak the future is. Why? Because this is God’s will for me in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus has already proved His unfathomable love for me by His death to redeem me. Because I can trust Him. Because He has never, ever failed me, and He will not fail me now.
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford