Here is something interesting that I stumbled upon the other day. I had my laptop open and was reading my Bible using the YouVersion App. The morning light must have been just right and when I let my eyes lose focus on what I was reading, I saw my reflection on the laptop screen.
For the next few seconds, my eyes flip-flopped back and forth between seeing the Bible and then seeing my reflection. But here’s the thing, I couldn’t see them both at the same time – It was one or the other. When my attention and concentration was on my reflection, I could not see the Bible. And likewise, when my attention and concentration was on the Bible, I could no longer see my reflection. What I saw was dependent on what I chose to focus on.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, God commands us to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Right now, maybe you are like me, and find it difficult to give thanks. People are getting sick and some are even dying. Our economy is in a downward spiral and people are losing their jobs. We are confined to our homes instead of meeting friends and family at a restaurant for a visit.
I could understand this verse if it said to give thanks in SOME circumstances, or even MOST circumstances, but definitely not ALL. How are we supposed to be thankful at a time like this?!
Here’s what I have discovered. God’s command for us to give thanks in all circumstances doesn’t mean that we force fake smiles and are naïve by pretending that the difficult situation we are facing isn’t happening. That’s phony and drives people away from Christianity.
Instead, when God said to give thanks in all circumstances, He wanted us to sift through the difficult situation that we are facing and look for something positive – something for which we can be thankful. And then we choose to focus on the good and give thanks.
In Luke 17 we read how Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back to say thank you. Now I don’t think that the nine healed lepers who failed to say thank you were ungrateful. After all, Jesus gave them their life back – they could now once again be with their family and friends and were no longer a social outcast. Surely, they were grateful for what Jesus did for them.
So why didn’t they come back and express their gratefulness to Jesus? I think it is because they simply didn’t take time or didn’t think about saying thank you. You and I can sometimes be like these nine lepers. God blesses us and we fail to give thanks. He answers our prayers and, in our excitement, we fail to turn back to God and say, “Thank You”. God puts people in our lives that help us and do kind things for us and we fail to tell them thanks.
If we gave it some thought, we can all think of people who have impacted, influenced, or directed our lives and yet we failed to say thanks. And it is not because we are ungrateful – it’s just that we don’t take time or don’t think about saying thank you.
So, here’s what I want us to do. Let’s make this last weekend of March a “Thank You” weekend. Let me encourage you this weekend to tell someone thank you. Maybe it is someone from years past or someone currently in your life. Maybe it is someone who helped lead you into a closer relationship with Jesus or maybe it is someone who encourages you by their constant smile and happy demeanor. Maybe it is someone who did something kind for you. Maybe it is just someone who you appreciate for who they are. Let’s commit this weekend to saying, “Thank You”!
Send a note, a card, a text message, an email or some kind of communication to at least one person this weekend and tell them “Thank You”! Let them know how much you appreciate them.
This time of crisis is begging for your attention. Satan wants you to focus on the bad and thus keep you from appreciating the good. However, God is calling you to be thankful in all circumstances. Which one will you choose to focus on?
Remember, when your attention and concentration is on being thankful, it is difficult to focus on the bad!