“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
This is the season that serves as a special reminder of all that God has provided for us.
But this simple truth is not always easy to see. Our “storehouse” mentality does not allow us to “rest” in Christ and follow this command of scripture.
Yes, it is a command. We are to be thankful in EVERY thing.
We want a big store of money that we can draw from at any time. A storage that we can see physically. That is obvious to us when we go to our online checking account to see our balance.
Or we need a big pile of strength, or self confidence or a clear path that can take us a good distance down the road.
Exploring Niagara Falls
This reminds me of a trip I took many moons ago to Niagara Falls. I love landscape photography and wanted to explore areas around the falls. There was a specific trail I found that is downriver from the falls just before you get to the right angle bend. It is called the whirlpool. I think the trail was called the Devil’s Hole.
The path down was kind of rickety. It was built into the side of the cliff face and shored up on the outside with stones. It may not even exist today. This was mostly a trail for the locals who fished in the river using very long poles with huge nets on the end. The trail was washed out in areas leaving dangerous holes plunging 50 feet down into the deep, treacherous river.
After walking this trail toward the whirlpool, I was stopped by huge boulders blocking the path. These 20-foot boulders were not the kind you could climb over. There was no clear path to take. It was a complicated maze of massive rubble.
Eventually, when I was near giving up, I looked way down along a possible path between some boulders. There I saw a red dot that had been painted on a rock. Being curious, I walked toward it. When I got to that spot, I looked around at the various other paths open to me, and then saw another dot way down between more boulders.
Following this pattern, I was able to reach the rapids and the whirlpool area. It was great to see that sight. And I had a great time there.
The point is that I could not have known what path to take at the start. It was only after completing what was revealed to me that I could see the next step. At each end point, a new path was shown that could only be seen from that exact spot looking in a precise direction.
We Do Not Walk by Sight
This is how the Christian life is to be walked. We walk based upon what Christ has revealed to us in His Word. That is the only clear path we have. It is a life of faith. Not of pragmatic calculation.
God has provided for us what we need now. So that we will trust Him now. We do not have provision for tomorrow. We are only promised provision for today. We are given strength for the problems of today.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)
So, it is critical that we understand how much God has provided for us. We need to know that He loves us and cares for us. And that He will give us what we need when we need it.
That is the only way we can be thankful in “everything”. When our confidence is not in ourselves but in Him. When bad things happen, we can stop worrying. It is far too easy to lose hope and think that our plans are lost when we try to see beyond this day.
At the End of the Rope, We Find Christ
I have gone through a lot of stuff lately that has pushed me to the edge. Painful injuries, stupid accidents, constantly dropping stuff, things not working out as I had planned, lack of coordination in doing things that I have always done successfully. It can drive one kind of nuts to have a succession of bad things happen. One can doubt whether God is angry with them or if He is being chastened or whatever.
I have no doubt of God’s ability to provide. But I often doubt His willingness. Meaning, am I doing all I am supposed to do so that God will supply my need? I allow myself to try and calculate where I have fallen short in obtaining the blessings of God.
And this is the Million Dollar Question. What is holding God’s hand of blessing back?
However, that thinking is based on a false idea of the Christian life. That God will do something for me based on my performance. And that I have a right to expect a certain level of blessing from God. That there is a baseline of stuff that God will provide. And no less than that.
But that is not biblical. We are in a new life here. How the vast majority of Christians around me may live, has no real relevance to how God is going to deal with me. He may be using me for something different than I had expected. He may be preparing me, and my wife, for something far greater than we ever could imagine. Something infinitely unique.
This special preparation and work of God is something that might be seen. Or it might not. We may follow the Lord in obscurity, in the backwaters of life and in seemingly fruitless toil. But, if it is God’s way, then it is eternally wonderful. He will reveal it all someday. Maybe here, but definitely in Heaven.
Without Me, Ye Can Do Nothing
This is not about the “Prosperity Gospel” commonly preached on TV. This is not about how the Evangelical media portrays the Christian life. I have often thought that their portrayal of biblical truth, of the Christian life and practice, is often of a much more prosperous and compromised level than the Bible teaches. Where everything is kind of mainstream and well-assimilated into modern life.
But we are in a new life that places us in total dependency on Christ. He is our Source. He is our Treasury. He is our Fountainhead.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). This is really what the Christian life is. We have nothing in ourselves to present before the Lord so that He will do something for us. Nothing. He is preparing our inheritance for us. It is His workmanship; not our own.
There is no basic life we live that allows us to go onto the balance sheet of blessing distribution from God. It is all of grace. All by grace through faith in the Righteousness of Christ. Resting in all that He is, moment by moment, to supply our every need.
Because this is truly the only way we can be thankful for everything. Not just the good stuff. Not just the stuff we are emotionally, physically, and monetarily able to handle.