There are different seasons and circumstances we find ourselves in as we go through life. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us that no matter what we are facing, no matter the circumstance, we should be thankful to God.
Thanksgiving isn’t something you do when you have just received an alert, promotion or good news. In times of triumph and tragedy, when things are going on well and when we are faced with a problem, the fruit of our lips should be a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15).
You can’t fake or feign thanksgiving. True thanksgiving comes from the heart (Psalm 9:1). Jonah was in the belly of a fish and he prayed to God, gave heartfelt thanks to God, and God heard him (Jonah 2:1-2, 9). I don’t know what kind of belly you are in right now. Whether it is the belly of joblessness, singleness, barrenness, stagnation, lack, debt, reproach or ridicule.
Even in the belly of a pandemic, we can be thankful. You don’t have to be lying on a bed of comfort or have so much before you can be thankful. Jesus had five thousand people to feed, but only five loaves and two fish. Jesus gave thanks to God and there was an increase; there was so much to eat and plenty left over (John 6:1-13). You don’t increase what you have by grumbling and being ungrateful.
In several Bible passages we are told to give thanks to God, for He is good (Psalm 118:1, Psalm 136:1, 1 Chronicles 16:34). We aren’t told to give thanks to God because the economy is booming, there’s no crisis or lock down, we have a good and understanding landlord or because our names have made it to the top 10 most successful people. God’s goodness is the basis for a life of gratitude and thanksgiving. If we don’t see and understand that God is good, we will struggle with being thankful. God is good means that even when we have failed and fallen, our lives have flaws and weaknesses, God still arises to show us mercy and compassion.
The Lord is good to all not just to those who are perfect and have it all together (Psalm 145:9). It is because God is good that He woke us up this morning and didn’t make last night our last night (Psalm 143:8). God’s goodness is seen in how He is able to work out everything for our good (Romans 8:28). Only a good God would store up good things for us (Psalm 31:19) and have good plans for us; plans to give us a future and hope, plans for our peace and well-being, not plans to hurt and harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). It is out of His goodness that God sacrificed His Son to die for us when we were far away from Him and didn’t deserve to be shown any kind of kindness (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). Jesus didn’t die for us because we were worthy, He died for us because God is good. So, all around us are different expressions of God’s goodness. The way God watches over us, helps, saves and provides for us show that God is good.
Reflecting on God’s goodness should make our hearts overflow with thanksgiving every day, every time. The moment our focus and attention is on problems or what we don’t have, thanksgiving becomes something we exert so much energy on, something we need to be cajoled to do. Thanksgiving becomes effortless and a lifestyle when we stop allowing what we don’t have or the troubles we are going through to define us.
Thanksgiving is about making God our focus and priority. Which is more important God or the amount in your bank account? Which is bigger God or your problem? Anytime there’s a shift from God to other things and people, the voice of thanksgiving is silenced, little things become big things, and things of great value are treated as ordinary and unimportant.
Don’t let what you don’t have or what is happening around you overwhelm you to the point that you forget God’s benefits and goodness.
Be thankful, God is good!
By Tesh Njokanma
Tesh Njokanma is a lawyer by training whose heart is in writing. She is a prolific writer with over 15 years experience as a magazine editor. Tesh is a pastor in The Redeemed Christian Church of God, with a teaching and prayer ministry. She is married to Chude Njokanma and blessed with children. Tesh and her family are based in Lagos, Nigeria. More of her amazing writing is here: http://www.teshnwritings.com/