…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…(Ephesians 5:20)
Being thankful for good things is pretty easy. Buy someone coffee and
they’ll likely thank you. Open a door for a stranger, and they’ll probably thank you. But as Christians we are called not merely to be thankful for good things, but also for hard things — even painful things. How is that possible? Thankfulness cannot be manufactured. You might express gratitude from your mouth with an ungrateful heart. Thankfulness is a posture of humility, of recognizing you have received something you don’t deserve. This is at the very heart of the gospel. Jesus came, God in the flesh, to die as an innocent man for sinners like you and me. Holy people aren’t supposed to be executed like criminals, and yet Jesus was — and he was killed in our place. Sin is treason against God, and the penalty for treason against God is death (Romans 6:23). Because Jesus bore the consequences of our treason and offers his record of righteousness, if we put our trust in him we are seen as blameless before God. We are promised everlasting life in the presence of Love himself. Isn’t that amazing? This Thursday is Thanksgiving, and maybe you’re overcome with gratitude. But let’s say you’re not exactly feeling thankful. Maybe you’re in the throes of depression or marital strife or sickness. Are you in Christ? Do you know him? If so, you have a bright future. Though you may be suffering now, soon you will experience delight beyond your wildest imagination — and your present hardship is preparing you for the reward to come. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
No one wants to suffer. But what if our suffering is merely painful preparation for what is to come? This Thanksgiving, look beyond your circumstances to an eternity that awaits. If you are in Christ, you have every reason to be thankful. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart — Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)!