“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” Colossians 3:15-17 (MSG)
In the heart of Dallas there is a special place called Thanks-Giving Square. It’s a sanctuary of peace in the city. One early November afternoon, this was our destination.
The Hubs had accompanied me on a business trip that proved stressful and frustrating. We had only a few hours to enjoy the city together before returning home. Unfortunately, offenses of the week had piled up. The chasm of disappointment was widening between us.
My husband displays unmistakeable body language whenever he is displeased. I pretended not to notice his signature stride as I followed a short distance behind, fussing and fuming. We were neither in tune nor in step. Cultivating thankfulness was furthest from my mind!
Unlike the Apostle Paul, of course. He was a master at thankfulness. Repeatedly beaten and flogged, shipwrecked and snake-bit, hungry and threatened, he continually gave thanks. Over thousands of grueling miles ministering the Gospel, he gave thanks. Languishing in prison, knowing his fate was a cruel martyr’s death, he gave thanks. He never wavered in this resolve; nor should we.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:4 (ESV)
I know this full well yet gratitude doesn’t come easy. I suspect most would agree. We humans have eons of historical grumbling to overcome. Let’s resolve to do so anyway!
This Thanksgiving week, we’ve entered the holiday season. We’re catching a glimpse to the end to 2020, a welcome event. Many have suffered much this crazy year of COVID. There’s no better time to take Paul’s example for thankfulness to heart.
Paul’s admonition reminds us that thanksgiving is neither a day nor a place. It’s a discipline. Thankfulness is cultivated when we trust in God. There is a domino effect as we find Him faithful: our faith grows and gratitude flows. The first step — to believe — is essential. This launches a personal faith-journey. As we walk it out we will discover faith in God to be well-placed, because:
- He is who He says He is. (Isaiah 46:9, Malachi 3:6, Revelation 1:8)
- He will do what He says He will do. (Number 23:19)
- He has the power to redeem anything, even this thing. (Isaiah 44:24)
- We can trust Him to the day of completion. (Philippians 1:6)
That day in Dallas, the Hubs and I reached our final destination at The Chapel of Thanksgiving. The exterior forms a simple but elegant spiral. It looks like a nautilus drawn out, stretching heavenward.
It was quiet inside, void of people. The stained glass installation swirled above our heads. Light from the Glory Window streamed in through thousands of bright, sharp fragments, perfectly placed. I lay down on my back in the middle of the floor to absorb the brilliance.
I took a deep breath. Then another. Then nothing else mattered because suddenly I was flush with gratitude. Thankful for this sacred moment. This beautiful memory. This stubborn man!
I’d hardly noticed but he’d drawn near to me on the floor. He took my hand. The chasm between us closed on the next breath.
That day in Dallas I discovered a beautiful exchange. My anger, bitterness and disappointment dissipated on the winds of thanks-giving. My spirits soared on the updraft of my offering, like a sacrifice ascending to the heavenliness. Heart-space laden with the grace of gratitude, peace returned to my innermost spirit. It was a magnificent trade.
So then, dear friend, let us not lose hope based on present troubles or suffering (Rom 8:18, 2 Cor 4:17). Let us receive with glad hearts the advice of the Apostle of Thanksgiving. If anyone is qualified to admonish us so, it is Paul!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Grace and peace to you, dear one, and to all within your thanks-giving circle.