Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
My daughter has requested, apparently, that I pray and say a few words during her Thanksgiving celebration day after tomorrow. This is the preview; it's pretty simple and obvious.
If we look around at the world today, from Iran and the Middle East to China and other foreign affair disasters-in-waiting, from the impending collapse of the financial markets to the unemployment rate and health insurance or to the gangrenous stench in popular culture as personified by people from Miley Cyrus to Lance Armstrong, Oprah Winfrey to Obama, we have to wonder how we can be thankful for these circumstances.
As you already know, though, we are not called to give thanks for, but to give thanks in all circumstances. Not everything that has happened to us this year is good. Not everything that will happen next year will be welcomed. Yet despite the trials we face, we may rejoice for God is working constantly and ceaselessly on our behalf. Jesus says in John 16:33, In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
While we are troubled, while we face the unknown and the sometimes dreadful, we ought to pray at all times. Prayer, as someone said, it the acknowledgement that we do not have all the answers. In turning to the Lord in prayer we admit our dependence upon Him and thank Him for being with us and in us.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)
I am sure those Pilgrims who enjoyed the plenty of that first harvest would understand. They had faced grave difficulties. Many had suffered and died, and more trials lay ahead. Not doubt the future seemed uncertain, perhaps even dark. Yet as strangers in this strange land, the Lord prepared a table for them. They could rejoice and give thanks that He had seen them through this far.
When we gather at our tables, let us be thankful, not only for the bounty and the blessings but for the One who provides. And if the feast be scant with few to share, give thanks and fill thy plate with joy knowing that the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.