noun, the giving of thanks; gratefulness
Take a moment and peruse through Matthew 26: 20-35 of your Bible. Notice the headings in that section and then take a moment to scan the contents. What is Jesus doing in this portion of scripture? Even more important, what does Jesus know during these events? Answer to the first question: Jesus is sharing his last meal with the disciples. Answer to question 2: He knows Judas will betray him, Peter will deny him and I’m pretty sure He knows that He will be crucified. Yet what does he choose to do in spite of all this turmoil? He gives shares the bread and the wine and gives thanks.
Anne Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts*, says “God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors.” I’m sure Jesus could have waited ’til the whole crucifixion and resurrection thing was over to thank His father for how perfectly everything worked out, but He didn’t. He gave thanks in the middle of the pain. We (and by we, I mean me) can definitely take a cue from Jesus. I don’t want to be thankful after the difficult times are over, and I see God’s hand through it all; I want to give thanks in the middle of it — when it feels like there is nothing to be thankful for.
Why is it difficult to be grateful when life is falling down around us? Hebrews 10:25 says, “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Notice the words hope we say we have. That’s the ticket. Many times we sfile:///Users/keithhall/Desktop/being_thankful_card.jpgay we have hope in God, but we don’t live, don’t speak it. We don’t give thanks in the difficult times because we don’t truly believe that God has everything under control. We don’t believe that he is making “all things work together for our good” (Romans 8:28). When we can’t give thanks in the difficult, we can’t — or won’t– trust God.
Let’s go back to Matthew 26 again. How in the midst of betrayal and looming suffering and death, did Christ give thanks? If we read John 13 we see that right before the last supper, Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet. A chapter later in Matthew, Jesus is praying in the garden, and the prayer was one we are all familiar with: “Not my will but your will be done.” In both situations, the washing of feet and the anguished prayer, Jesus was forfeiting his rights. He was God yet he knelt to wash dirty feet; He was God, yet he allowed liars to torture and brutally kill him. Yet in the midst of it all, He gave thanks.
“Thankfulness in the difficult moments requires the emptying of self” (Voskamp). Real trust requires thankfulness in every situation. We must give up our right to know how things will work out, give up our right to control a situation, give up our right to question. Psalms 50:23 says, “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.” “Every moment we live, we live bowed to something. And if we don’t see God, we will bow before something else” (Voskamp). If we choose to not thank, we choose to bow before stress. No thankfulness? We bow before anger, before regret, before worry. These become our gods.
Look how God encourages us through Paul’s words: “Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, mo matter what happens” (Hebrews 10:35). How do we live in that confident trust? We choose to be grateful in any circumstance. With every word of gratitude given back to the Lord, we choose to fall back in to His arms and let him take care of us. This simple act of thankfulness lets Him take care of it all.
*Want to let God grow you in the area of thankfulness? I highly suggest that you read One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp. It is a life-changing book!