Many believers misunderstand the difference in “Being thankful” and “Having a thankful Heart.” There are two key verses related to the two principles. The first is found in 1 Thessalonians 4 18, “…in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” The other verse is Philippians 4:6,” Don’t be anxious about things; instead pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your request, so talk to God about your need and be thankful for what has come.”(The Voice)
Being thankful is an act of the will regardless of how we feel. It is also an act of trust and obedience. Being thankful is a result of, and prerequisite to, having a thankful heart. Being thankful is an overt act of obedience, and the sweet result is having a thankful heart.
Does that mean we are to be thankful when we receive tragic news like, “You have cancer” or “You have lost your job”, or when we lose a friend or loved one through death? Yes, we are to be thankful – but not how you might think. No one in his right mind would say, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer.” Or would they say, “Hallelujah, my close friend has died.” That would be delusional.
But what it does mean is that we are to be so dependent upon a sovereign God for every event and circumstance in our life that we look for God’s hand and blessings in the midst of the trial. What God really desires is for us to be so “other-worldly” that nothing can shake our confidence and trust in Him. He wants us living at the level where we know that God knows best, even though in the midst of our problem we can’t see the blue sky for the fog.
Can we mourn and feel the pain of loss and still be thankful? Sure, those are natural reactions to the events of life. But because we know that God has a bigger plan in mind, and He knows the impact of the event on our life before it happens, we thank Him for seeing us through the event. We have the assurance that because of God’s love and care for His children, He will successfully see us through.
So this Thanksgiving, reflect not only on the obvious things that you are thankful for, but as the Scripture so plainly teaches, “in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus”.
“And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the liberating King” Philippians 4:7 (The Voice)