When I was a child, the church we belonged to offered “Junior Church,” a youth-based church service. Based on my experience visiting or belonging to other churches, most seem to provide a similar ministry for their youth.
Junior Church was run by an older couple, Mrs. Finney and her husband, a church deacon. I can’t remember a single Sunday where they did not serve this ministry. They talked the word and lived it out by being part of the village that helped build a strong foundation for each child who participated. (Proverbs 22:6)
During prayer time, Mrs. Finney would always say, “you can never be too thankful.” It is a trivial statement that carries quite a substantial weight.
Just a little over four years ago, I was walking into what may have been one of the most immense storms of my life—a crisis, to say the least.
I remember calling my aunt to get spiritual guidance and counsel. She said several things during that phone conversation that would significantly impact how I would navigate through my storm. One of the things she said to me was, “be grateful.”
My initial thought was, “be grateful?”. “What about this crisis can I be grateful for when we are enduring so much pain?”.
She continued, telling me that there was far more to be grateful for even in the midst of the storm. She helped me shift my thoughts to reflect on the good.
We had a roof over our heads. Food on the table. Clothes on our backs. Shoes on our feet. My children were healthy. I had a good job. You know, everyday things that we often take for granted. The list could go on and on.
And the thing is, I hadn’t forgotten all for which I had to be grateful but, the storm entirely overcame me.
Here I had found myself later in my life, hearing words again, similar to what I had listened to every Sunday in Junior Church. Words that had a marginal tone yet bearing great influence.
This charge that my aunt had given me is what we find in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 precisely.
In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP
Do you see that? It says, “no matter what.” In the ICB translation, it says, “whatever happens.” In all cases, we are to give thanks to God. Why? Because it is what he calls us to do. It is His will for us. And quite frankly, He is just too good otherwise.
It seems that during the holiday season, everyone is abundantly more thankful than the days leading up to and thereafter. But that is not God’s design for us. It isn’t always easy to consider our blessings when life happens to and around us, but it is essential to survival. It is, in fact, one of the most powerful strategies that we can use to stay afloat.
When we lean in on what we do have instead of what we lack, we can completely change the trajectory of our spirit in difficult times.
On days when the clouds seem to engulf the sun, I praise God anyway. It literally pulls me out and lifts me up above the clouds. It allows me to see that the sun [Son] is still shining.
Charge & Challenge
Maybe you are battling a storm. Or perhaps all is very well in your life. Regardless of the situation, I pass the same charge on to you to be grateful. Make it a part of your daily routine.
I further challenge you to take a moment and list ten things for which you are grateful.
I doubt that you will have any difficulty with your list once you get going but if you do, check out Psalm 136. It’s sure to bless you and remind you that we can never be too thankful!