Do you ever have moments when you wonder if God really deserves our thanks?
If so, you are not alone.
I can think back on many instances in my own life when I truly wondered if God, in all His might and strength and love, was really worth all the thanksgiving I was supposed to be giving Him. In those hardest of times, I often struggled to see Him for who He really is.
Just over a year ago, we went through a family situation that really rocked our household. The hardest part of it was that it had nothing to do with anyone in our home, so while it affected us deeply, it was completely out of our control. And as my immediate family tried to love and support me through the challenges and transitions, I shut them out. I shut God out.
I would hear words like, “Well at least…” or “Be thankful it’s not….” or the reminder, “Bring it all to God.” In the midst of all that was happening, I didn’t even know how to talk about it, let alone pray about it.
But as the days wore on, I began to see God show up over and over, even as I pushed Him away. He started with me in the simplest of places, bringing me back to the basics of my faith. And as I started to respond to Him once again, these three truths helped me see why He deserves our thanks, even in those toughest moments.
1) God deserves our thanksgiving because He provides for us.
Sometimes, in the hardest of times, it feels like we are surviving a journey that only gets us from point A to point B, over and over again. In those days when it feels like even the minimal details of our lives are falling apart, it’s important to remember that God delights in providing for us.
Most of the time this provision doesn’t look the way we expect or want it to. It’s usually not on our timing and quite often is in some amazing, creative way, in order to show us that God is the one in control, not us. He reminds us often not to worry about this provision, because He knows our needs! I’m guilty of worrying when my faith is strained, instead of choosing trust. But in the end, God is completely able to provide for us, and He will do so. Remembering that provision has helped me to remember to choose thankfulness, even if it’s just for the littlest of things. Small moments of gratitude give way to a heart of thankfulness.
“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” –Luke 12:24 (NIV)
2) God deserves our thanksgiving because He has a plan for us.
From the very beginning, God had a plan for each and every one of us. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that as things happen and life goes a different direction than we are planning, God is still the one who in control. There is nothing that touches our lives that God hasn’t allowed! If you’re like me, doubt creeps up and leaves you questioning the goodness of God, because if God is good, why would He allow awful things to happen?
This is when I come back to likely the most popular verse on the plans God has for us, Jeremiah 29:11. But instead of just quoting that, I’d like to show you the context of the verse. In this moment when God is speaking through Jeremiah, He is talking to a nation in exile. God’s people, the people of Israel, were scattered among other nations as captives and outcasts, feeling hopeless and defeated. Through their own disobedience, their home nation was in shambles and they were displaced. But instead of rescuing them, God desires to teach them a lesson in perseverance. He tells them to carry on life and grow in number (v. 6), pray for the prosperity of the nation where they are exiled (Babylon, v. 7), and to trust in Him, not in the voices of others not sent by Him (v. 8-9). And in the end, He reminds them that He has a plan to save them, a plan of hope for them (v. 10-11).
This sounds a lot more like real life, right? Sometimes, we do have to walk through tough things and God doesn’t just pluck us right out of it. Instead, He allows us to walk through it for the sake of our faith and our reliance on Him. In His love and grace, He shepherds us through the tough times, all the while reminding us that His good and perfect plan has not changed.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:10-11 (ESV)
3) God deserves our thanksgiving because He has saved us.
Probably at the core of all of this, the greatest reason for thanks is that God has given us a Savior. God’s plan to send Jesus here to earth, to have Him minister to people here and ultimately die for the sake of our sins outweighs anything else that He could have ever done. Because of this amazing gift, we are forever held in the hands of God, knowing that at the end of our days, our home is with Him. And if we know Christ as our Savior, this is a reason to be thankful even if everything else has fallen to pieces. And in this saving for eternity, we are also saved in a lot of ways from ourselves as we follow God throughout our life. Through the knowledge of Him, we live for Him and get to do His amazing work wherever we are and whatever season we are in.
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time–to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. -2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT)
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Discuss: I know that when I am in a tough season, these truths have been powerful and able to redirect my thoughts back to giving thanks to God. I challenge you, regardless of the life or situation you are in, to remember these three things as you go throughout the days of this season. Make an effort to redirect your thoughts to the God who provides, the God with a divine plan, and the God who saves. He is with us, my friend.
Pray: Oh Father, how mighty You are! I know that, even though my situation may not seem so, You are in control. You will provide for me in Your amazing way. You have a plan for me, even if that plan means I have to walk some hard roads first. And most of all, You have saved me out of Your amazing love and grace. Help me to remember these truths about You, even in the hardest days. In Jesus Name, Amen.