“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
The church I was raised in was in the city limits, but our worship style was far from the typical city church. I guess you could say that we were a “country church” in the city. I learned a lot about being a Christian in that church.
One of the things that sticks out in my memory are the testimony meetings. At least once a month, the entire church service would be given to “testifying”. As a boy, I have to admit, that I often viewed it as more entertaining than inspirational, especially when certain “emotional leaning” personalities would take their turn to testify. I would set on the side of my bench wondering what they were going to say or do next.
As I grew older I began to see the value of testimony meetings. I now see that it gave the congregation the opportunity to publicly participate in the service, fulfilling 1 Corinthians 14:26 “…when you assemble each has a psalm, has a teaching, a revelation…” It was an opportunity for each person to tell how God had become practical in their daily life. To a young Christian this was a valuable experience that helped me get over the fright of publicly sharing my faith. As I look back on this experience, I think these meetings were one of the most important activities in my development of walking out my faith in my younger years.
However, with all the benefit derived from this experience there was also a downside. Now that I am older and more mature in my faith, there were a few glaring doctrinal errors I picked up in those meetings. One of the most prevalent errors was the one concerning thankfulness. As I recall, being thankful was reserved for salvation, the health of your family, the raise you got on the job, and your new car. In other words, it was perceived that thankfulness only related to being thankful for the good things, and the answered prayers. Don’t get me wrong, those are areas where we should be thankful.
But having a thankful heart is not just related to the good things that God gives us. Equally important is being thankful for all the other things that come our way. No one desires to have illness, marriage problems, relational issues, and financial reversals. But as growing and maturing believers we understand that our most significant growth comes when we are plucked from our comfort zone and placed in a state of unrest and brokenness.
Brokenness means coming to the “end of yourself.” I have been asked many times, “Which comes first, brokenness or coming to the end of yourself?” I usually respond, “I think they are most often simultaneous.” When we spend time in the valley, unable to help ourselves, we are forced to depend on God’s sufficiency. The result is we get to know God at a deeper level. Our faith has grown and we now trust God like never before.
So this Thanksgiving season, lets be careful to remember that having a thankful heart also includes being thankful for the pain, the suffering and those uncomfortable situations that God has seen us through.
So if you have the opportunity to tell what you are thankful for this season, how about telling how you are thankful for the valleys that He has seen you through? Then tell how the valleys has strengthened your faith. Maybe someone may need to hear how God has led you through the valley.
I am thankful for the valleys that God has led Brenda and me through this year. We have learned that God is faithful in and through the valley. We are also thankful for you, our friends. May your Thanksgiving holiday be blessed with wonderful memories and plenty of good food.