President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. This was established while our nation was in the throes of the Civil War.
It is during times of testing and trial when rendering thanks to the Lord can truly provide an anchor for our souls. I thank God for the very breath in my lungs, for the freedom to worship Him and for the Bible in my hands, when there are millions around the world who long to be so blessed.
These are just a few of the countless blessings I can identify, no matter what else may be happening. As I thank Him, I begin to regain perspective, and the pressure and cares that were encroaching are pushed back.
There is a popular quote that says, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” We understand this in the context of finding contentment in our current circumstances, which is certainly good.
However, going a step further, the Bible gives us examples of how thanksgiving literally makes way for miracles, and Jesus exemplified how we can respond to barriers and attacks with gratitude on our lips, and watch God bring multiplication and blessing.
In the accounts of both the feeding of the 4,000 and the feeding of the 5,000, we see Jesus’ response to seemingly impossible situations—how to feed thousands of hungry men (plus women and children) with the equivalent of a small meal. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. Then He gave the food to His disciples, who gave it to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up basketfuls of leftovers.
Jesus didn’t look at the scant supply He had in front of Him and react as I know I have in the past, saying, “This isn’t going to be enough! Oh man, what are we going to do?” He gave thanks for what He had, and in doing so, God brought a supernatural increase, an “abundance for every good work,” as referenced in 2 Cor. 9:8 (NKJV). This same opportunity is available to us!
My longtime friend and mentor, Southwest District Supervisor Kimberly Dirmann, recently shared an insight regarding Jesus’ example of thankfulness in the most extreme of circumstances that really cut me to the heart.
In the account of the Last Supper, Jesus also took the bread, gave thanks and gave it to His disciples—including the one who would betray Him. Would I be able to retain an attitude of thanks when faced with imminent betrayal, shaming, torture and death? Jesus, I long to follow Your ways.
While I feel like I’ve grown through the years in my “gratitude quotient,” these illustrations of our mandate to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18) inspire me to continue pressing in to become more and more like Jesus, and to experience the resulting fruitfulness.
How You Can Pray
Find some of the many scriptures on thankfulness (a few examples include Ps. 7:17; Col. 1:12; and 2 Cor. 9:11,15), and meditate on them. Then ask God to strengthen you to give thanks in everything! Praying with us? Include what you are praying for in a comment below.