No, not the table festivities and turkey. I’m talking about soul food, thanksgiving for the soul.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
(1 Thess 5:16-18; NIV).
“2020 has been such a hard year”, “Life is so hard these days!” “Why on earth did God allow Covid-19?” “Wow… 2020 can end already….” I am pretty sure one of these thoughts have crossed your mind this year, or maybe you’ve said it to one of your friends - I certainly have.
It’s definitely in our human nature to complain, compare and question why things happen or why God allows certain things to be. This year has definitely been a challenging year and one that has required major adjustments in the way we live and do life. This year has definitely been a test for many. But my question to you is: have you recently found yourself complaining and questioning God or have you been making room to be thankful, even in the midst of uncertainty? Do you wait for good to happen before you start giving thanks or are you living life with a heart that is always ready to give thanks?
Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV):
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
A lot of people have faced major hardships this year: being isolated and lonely, financial constraints, perhaps losing your job during lockdown, or losing a loved one, whatever the circumstance may be. Such circumstances are tremendously difficult. So often we tend to focus on the trials and hardships that we are experiencing. We fix our hearts and minds on the negative things that are happening to and around us, so much so that we even start to measure God’s might through the lenses of our situations and, in turn, lose our joy, constantly grumbling and living with a spirit of anxiety.
There are many people we can learn from in the Bible who had a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude, despite facing great hardship, for example Paul or Joseph. Joseph’s strengths came from his ability to look at everything that happened to him in light of God’s eternal plan and promise. Despite being despised and rejected by his brothers and imprisoned, Joseph saw the bigger picture of what God was doing. He did not allow the hardships to stop him from trusting God. Paul is another example of an individual who went through great hardship. Yet he still encourages us to,“Rejoice always and give thanks in everything.”
It’s important to note the difference between giving thanks for our circumstances, and giving thanks in our circumstances. We give thanks for our circumstances because we know that God helps us to grow and mature into who He has planned for us to be. We give thanks in our circumstances because we know that we’ve received victory in Christ and will come out stronger than when we entered. If you can manage to be thankful in every situation, really believing that God is working everything out for your good, you will end up with the victory every single time. Romans 8:28 (MEV), "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God." He can take all things and bring good out of them. But are we willing to be grateful before we see the good in them?
Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness is more than just a good idea; it is a command from God. We are instructed to be thankful in all circumstances. As believers, we can have peace and joy through prayer and thanksgiving. 2 Corinthians 4:15: “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to over flow to the glory of God.”
Lastly, I would love to encourage you to take some time out and thank God. Write down a few things you are thankful for, pray and ask God to teach you to have a spirit of thankfulness. If you cannot think of anything to be thankful for, here is a short prayer to kickstart this for you. I would also encourage you to listen to the song “Thank You” by Hillsong, which is just a great song of thanksgiving to God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love and mercy; thank You for Your endless provision. Thank You for friends, family and community.
Thank You for laying Your life down for me; teach me how to be more like You.
Help me to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving and praise in every circumstance; fill me with your spirit Lord, Fill my heart with joy…
Marthia Keorapetse is part of the youth leadership and a youth worship leader at Cornerstone Church.
I obtained my Journalism degree in 2018, and I am currently working as a Research Assistant.
I am just a young woman after God's heart and I want to proclaim his goodness as best as I can.