Jesus expects His followers to be thankful people.
The scriptures are very, VERY clear. There are no exceptions. There are no qualifiers. Take this passage for instance…
Take a minute to notice the extremities of this passage. We Christ-followers are to be thankful…
Really? Doesn’t the LORD understand the kind of life we live down here? Isn’t there some kind of loophole that makes room for grumbling or complaining or “venting” when things aren’t going well? Nope. You can’t find it in scripture. Christians are to give thanks ALWAYS.
- FOR EVERYTHING.
Now wait a minute! There are some horrendous things that happen to us on this planet. Death. Job loss. Diseases. Abuses. Injustice. Are we really expected to be thankful in the midst of those kinds of circumstances? Yep. Every one of them.
Sound impossible? It is.
Did you get that? Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
When the LORD gives commands that are impossible for us to fulfill, He doesn’t expect us to grit our teeth and try anyway. He expects us to humbly admit our inability. He wants us to fulfill every one of His impossible commands by relying on the strength His Holy Spirit provides. John 15:5 comes right in the middle of an illustration where Jesus is comparing our relationship to Him to a branches relationship to its vine. The nutrients, strength, and life all come from the vine, not the branches. The branches get everything they need from the vine. Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. That truth holds the key to how we can be thankful in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES and at ALL TIMES.
The first step toward living out thankfulness
So how does the Jesus do it? How does He give us that “vine-life” that enables us to be thankful for everything all the time? Does He zap us with superpowers that spring to life when needed? No… what He does is to cause us to understand and embrace what He says is true. That’s called belief…
We received Christ Jesus as Lord, how? By faith. We are to “walk” or live in Him the same way… by faith. That means that we are to live this life by trusting that what He says is true, no matter how we feel about it, no matter what we think about it from a human perspective. So the first step toward living out thankfulness in all things and at all times is to believe that if Jesus says we should do it, then He will provide the means for us to do it.
The second step toward living out thankfulness
Once we’ve committed to live out what Jesus says, we can move on to apply what He says, to the practical circumstances of life. That’s where the truth of Jesus and thankfulness intersect. Here’s how…
As a committed follower of Christ, one who loves Him and takes Him at his word, we have to avoid the temptation to read this passage and say, “Yes, but…” There is no “but.” This verse contains the word of our trustworthy Savior. It’s His promise to us. He’s put it in black and white to assure us that in every situation He is not only present, He’s active in it for good. That means that in…
- Financial difficulty
- Abuse & mistreatment
It’s essential that our families know this truth, because the world says the exact opposite.
Everything about being thankful in the midst of terrible circumstances is contrary to the modern way of thinking. For that reason, we’ve got to… 1) Teach our families the truth of Jesus’ good work in terrible circumstances, and… 2) Prepare them to withstand the worldly resistance they’ll be sure to face. Here’s some conversation starters you can use this week to get your family started on that journey…
Questions for family discussion:
- What are the hardest things you face in life?
- Do you find it easy or hard to be thankful in those times?
- READ ROMANS 8:28 & EPHESIANS 5:20.
- God says that He’s working in every situation for our good. Do you really believe that?
- What comfort or assurance does it give you to know that Jesus is powerful enough to bring good out of bad situations?
- Do you think any differently about the hard situations of life, knowing that Jesus is in them, at work for good?
- In light of what we read in Romans 8:28, how do you think it’s possible for us to be thankful in every circumstance that happens?
- What are some reasons you can be thankful the next time a hard situation comes?
Like any Sunday school lesson or sermon, the truth your family learns about this issue will slip away if you don’t serve up reminders for them. So review this idea often. Use hard times to remind yourself and your family that God is good, all the time, and He is working for good in your lives. Say prayers of thanksgiving for the hard times, together, before they come… so that all of you will be thinking about the need for thankfulness ahead of time. And when the hard times hit, remind each other of the LORD’s plan to work it out for His glory and your good. And focusing on that truth, encourage thankfulness in all things.by