Learning From the Thanksgiving of Others

When you think of these people in the Bible what do you think of?

Jonah – Whales? Running from God? Pompous? Bitter?

Mary the mother of Jesus – Virgin birth? Young? Angels?

King Nebuchadnezzar – A golden statue? Babylon? Insanity?

The Apostle Paul – Changed life? Suffering? Missionary journeys?

King David – Goliath? Adultery? Shepherd boy whose heart was after God’s?

These are five distinctive individuals that faced very different circumstances but a closer view of each of them finds one unique similarity – Thankfulness. Not always and not in every circumstance (as encouraged in 1 Thess. 5:16-18) but each in their own time and own unique way displayed a grateful heart.

What does thankfulness mean to you?

For some readers of our blog, today is a holiday of giving thanks, for others outside of the USA, a normal day of work. No matter where you reside how can you make thankfulness a hallmark of your day and week?

As I reflect on the individuals mentioned above I am drawn to the reality that in each of their stories is a unique message of thankfulness. I am also blessed to realize that no matter where we find ourselves in our journey, that God is waiting and willing to turn our difficulties into thanksgiving. I hope these stories bring encouragement to you no matter where you are at; high times or low times, victories or defeats. Here is what God is teaching me about thankfulness through the lives of others:

Thankfulness from rebellion

Jonah was a rebel. He ran from God and refused to obey the call to go to Nineveh. His choices took him further and further from God until he met his low point in the belly of a whale. From the whale Jonah, seemingly filled with thankfulness, confesses, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” Later, he says (in contrast to idolaters), “I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you (God).” (Jonah 2)

God’s love continually pursues us. For Jonah it pursued him to the depths of the sea. Where have you found yourself? If you have rebelled, turn to God and allow him to fill you with love and forgiveness. Like Jonah, he can turn your heart of rebellion into a heart of thanksgiving.

Thankfulness from impossibilities and fear

Mary was young and she found herself miraculous pregnant despite being a virgin. Imagine the fear she must have felt. It was impossible for her to be pregnant and yet the angel was telling her that she would give birth to a son, whom she would call Jesus, the son of the most high. (Luke 1:31)

The fear could have gripped Mary and caused her anger and pain but instead we see her turning the fear into thanksgiving through a song in v.46-55.

How often do you allow fear to steer your attitude and decisions? With the right perspective, God can turn our fears of the unknown and uncomfortable into trust and thanksgiving to him.

Thankfulness from restoration

“King Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t one of thankfulness—not to the one true God, that’s for sure. But when it comes to thankful “moments,” there aren’t many that rival the moment Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity/humanness was restored. Daniel 4 talks about the state in which this famous king found himself in: God reduced Nebuchadnezzar to a wild animal. He lived remotely, alone. He ate grass like an ox. Dew would accumulate on his back each morning. His “hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Yet, at the end of his life we see the king turn his eyes towards God and his life is restored. Nebuchadnezzar “raised his eyes toward heaven,” God restored him. Then he “praised the Most High.” [1]

No matter the level of brokenness God does not give up on us. If you find yourself searching for answers to the emptiness of life, be encouraged, God is in the business of restoration. God transforms lives submitted to him and brings thankfulness through restoration.

Thankfulness from suffering

Throughout the writings of Paul in the New Testament we see that his commitment to follow Jesus brought about severe suffering. In fact in 2 Corinthians 11:22-33 we are given a long list of the trials Paul faced. In the midst of this however, we see Paul praising God in Thankfulness. He wrote, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor. 2:14)

Suffering is not easy, but as Paul testifies, with the right perspective even suffering can be turned in thankfulness. How might the trials you face in your ministry or life be used as a testimony of thankfulness to God?

Thankfulness from every victory

It is easy in victory to take the credit; my strength, my plans, my creativity or hard work. But we see in David that the credit for victory always went back to God in thanksgiving. “What’s obvious is that David had an unprecedented awareness of God’s blessing, protection, presence, and judgment in his life. If he defeated a giant, it was because of God. If his army was victorious, it was because of God. If his nation enjoyed peace, it was due to God’s protection. If he endured pain, it was caused by God. That kind of awareness will naturally lead to thanksgiving more often than not.” [1] David the author of many psalms reminds us that a person can’t be too thankful.

How are you celebrating the victories that God has given you? Are your victories pointing towards God in heaven?

Over the past two years Reconciled World has seen God do an incredible work in our ministry. He has provided for us and guided us in magnificent ways. Much of that can be seen as testified in our “glimpses of God” entries. Today I stop and thank God for his goodness.

No matter where you find yourself, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect and connect with God. What has he done in your life and ministry that needs to be turned into long overdue thankfulness? Out of your rebellion, fear, restoration, suffering and victory can come deep gratitude towards God. Join us in pointing it all towards God today!

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18

A lot of content for this blog was taken from this source:
[1] http://wadeswalktowork.blogspot.com/2010/12/most-thankful-people-in-bible.html
By | 2015-11-26T05:30:43+00:00 November 26th, 2015|Categories: Learn and Apply|Tags: |

About the Author:

John Warden is Reconciled World’s global staff pastor and the facilitator for 2:10. He holds a Masters of Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has more than fifteen years of ministry experience. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD with his wife and two daughters. You can contact him directly at johnw@reconciledworld.org.

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