Random blog post title right!
On the weekend, I preached into the refreshing practice of giving thanks.
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]
Paul is writing this to a bunch of new Christian believers who are in the midst of "severe suffering" (1 Thessalonians 1:6), and yet have great "joy given by the Holy Spirit."
So life was not a bed of roses for the people Paul was encouraging to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks. Quite the opposite - they were being strongly opposed for following Jesus by their own fellow citizens.
We may not being judged for our faith. We may not be experiencing direct and ongoing hostilities for being Christians. On the other hand, we may well be (the New Testament tells us this will come, being quite normal for followers of Jesus to experience). We certainly are in the midst of troubling circumstances. Times that are producing their own kinds of constant pressures.
And so, hearing the call to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances can be a helpful and refreshing call. If we understand how it is!
Giving thanks for puddles
When was the last time you gave thanks for a puddle? The kid in the photo is giving active thanks! You can see it all over his face. The truth is, we don't regularly, or perhaps have never, given thanks for a puddle. And yet there is real joy in jumping in it, and splashing water everywhere!!!
The power of the puddle is this - it's something we have done nothing to create, but can find a really simple and joyous participation in - if we're willing. We've certainly had plenty of puddles to jump in over our Sydney summer!
How does all this relate to "giving thanks in all circumstances"?
We deserve none of this!
Well, when you think about it, we deserve none of this life. It's not like we have a right to have a fun-sized puddle turn up in front of us. We don't have a right to a sunny day. We don't have a right to friendships that really build us up. We don't have a right to a job. We don't have a right to the love and grace of Jesus Christ. In short, we don't have a right to...anything. It's all a gift, a grace, if you will!
We might find this hard to swallow, but the truth of it is - everyday, we are surrounding by things that are pure gifts.
"Hold on," you say! I get the puddle, and I get the sunny day. I get the love and grace of Jesus, sure. But friendships...no I've worked hard for my friendships. And a job...no I should be able to work, like everyone else.
To which I would reply:
Sure, you worked hard to build great friendships. BUT your friends had to give you a go in the first place - had to let you in, had to trust you, had to choose you. If they turned away, gave up, or otherwise just didn't want to be interested in you...where would your friendship be?
Sure, you should be able to work, and work hard, like everyone else. BUT someone has to give you a go. Someone has to choose to employ you. Someone has to see potential, capacity, and skill in you.
In other words, there is a strong and clear (major) element of gift in all aspects of life on this planet.
If you can see the gift...
...You can see the reason to give thanks. And if you can see the reason to give thanks, you can experience the refreshing reality that behind all the gifts, there is a gift Giver. Watching over us all. Giving good gifts to us all as James 1:17 notes! Pretty powerful really.
A kind of powerful that refreshes joy, gratitude, even play in us. Kind of like finding a puddle...to jump in the middle of.
Start this year seeing the gift in all of life. You'll be refreshed, no doubt!
Written by Ps. Rob.