“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thoughts, and that gratitude is happiness double by wonder.” G. K. Chesterton
When life is quiet and seems to deliver what we believe we deserve and when there are no disruptions to our plans, it is easy to agree with Chesterton and to get lost in the ideas of joy, thanksgiving, and gratitude. However, when a trial comes our way joy and gratitude and thanksgiving are replaced by complaints, worries, stress, doubts and anxiety. Our bodies tighten up in an effort to ward off these intruders. But it is in those times of trial that we need our beliefs about gratitude, thanksgiving, and contentment in all situations to become real, to take on flesh and blood so that we can keep our wits in the midst of the storm.
Learning to be content, thankful, and grateful when our world seems to be falling apart and trials are coming at us from every direction is not an easy task. But that is exactly what we are told in Philippians 4:11 “learning to be content in whatever situation I am in,” and in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you…” How is it possible to be content and to give thanks when our world seems to be spinning out of control? Do we deny the circumstance or the pain of it? If we say that we believe God is good, wise, merciful, and full of grace and mercy, then why do we doubt His character when more than ever we need Him to be that safe and secure harbor, our refuge in those difficult times?
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, knowing what He was about to suffer, He begged the Father three times to let the cup pass away from Him, and each time He follows his plea with the words, “Nevertheless, not My will but yours be done.” It was Jesus’ knowledge and trust of His Father’s character that sustained Him in the midst of what was a seemingly impossible situation.
After the death of Lazarus, Martha left the mourners and went to meet Jesus. In a complaining tone she said, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus responded, “Martha, I am the resurrection and the life…” He closes His statement with a question that could be asked of anyone of us, “Do you believe this?”
Just like the blood that runs through our veins and invades our whole being gives us life, so believing is the blood that runs through our doubts turning the impossible into possible and the invisible into visible. It is believing that allows us give thanks and to be content regardless of our circumstances. When our belief become more than a good idea, when it becomes the very substance of our lives, then, and only then, can we experience contentment every situation that we are in, and “to give thanks in all things,” or to experience the “peace that transcends all human comprehension.”
In this thanksgiving season may our recognition and remembrance of the Father’s character sustain each of us in the midst of whatever trials we face.