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"The Value of Thanksgiving" (posted May 1, 2007)
Let the peace of God rule in your hearts ... and be thankful.
- Colossians 3:15
If we are sad and depressed, we need to try thanksgiving. If we are discouraged and feel like complaining, we must try praise. God tells us in His word that we should be found "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). Let's discover how we can do this.
The prophet Jeremiah was greatly depressed as he listed many things that weighed him down. "He has set me in a dark places ... He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out ... He has made my paths crooked" (Lamentations 3:6,7,9). In all, he named some thirty complaints about his desparate circumstances, ending on this sad note: "My strength and my hope have perished from the Lord" (3:18).
He felt as though he was hopelessly sinking under his burdens. But then his thoughts suddenly turned to God and he broke out with another thought altogether:
"This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion ... therefore I hope in Him."What a change! And that's always the way it is when we turn to God in our troubles. We find there is so much to thank Him for.
- Lamentations 3:21-24
We should take all our sorrows to the Lord and give Him the opportunity to show us why these things are in our lives; but we should never leave His presence without thanking Him for all our blessings. This will surely turn our complaining into praise and our depression into rejoicing.
Paul made no mistake when he wrote, "In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He knew what was needed to lift us up. The unconverted have nothing to fall back on in times of trouble. But we have the eternal God with unlimited resources who takes a personal interest in us.
How sad to see so many confused and burdened Christians disregarding the Lord's gracious offer: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). How grateful we should be, knowing that He will sustain us when we come to Him with all our burdens. We should even thank Him for our troubles, since they bring us closer to Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
E. C. Hadley