Have you ever noticed that some verses of Scripture seem easier to memorize than to put into practice? I certainly have. In fact, some of the passages I love the most appear very difficult to live out. A verse that immediately comes to mind-especially during the Thanksgiving season-is 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The word "everything" is challenging because there are situations when I do not feel particularly grateful. Perhaps you've experienced similar circumstances. There are troubles we face that negatively affect every aspect of our lives-stealing our joy and focus away from the Savior.
There have even been times over the years when I've walked out onto the platform as the church service began and my heart was somewhere else. I was as prepared mentally and spiritually as I could be to preach the message, but emotionally I was struggling with some devastating issue. It was through those moments that I experienced something extraordinary. As the orchestra played and the choir and congregation began to sing, my heart would respond to the words of those hymns. Giving thanks changed my focus from the difficulty I was facing to God's awesome character, provision, and love. Suddenly, my troubles did not seem so overwhelming.
Has this ever happened to you? As a believer, you know that the Lord is enthroned in your praises (Ps. 22:3). There is not anything better you can do than to give Him thanks, even in the most difficult situations. You've seen firsthand that even if everything seems contrary, when you submit to God-taking a leap of faith and expressing your appreciation to Him-the Lord blesses your obedience in ways you could not have imagined possible (Heb. 11:6).
This is why Scripture encourages us to always voice our gratitude to the Father, no matter what spiritual battle you or I experience. When we take our eyes off the problem and focus on Him, we realize He's already given us the victory. The challenge is in not straying from that attitude of gratefulness and appreciation.
Throughout the years, I've found that the best way to maintain a thankful heart is to recall the truth of God's Word-specifically all the great privileges we receive when we trust Jesus as our Savior. Although our loved ones, good health, and a successful career are excellent things to thank Him for, they may let us down at one point or another. However, His promises never fail and always give us reason to rejoice.
As you face challenges in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I pray that you will remember to give the Father praise in every situation and find 1 Thessalonians 5:18 more rewarding every time you live it out. May God strengthen your heart with thankfulness and fill you with joy as you continue to express your gratefulness to Him in each and every circumstance.
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