Practical Tips for Entering the New Year Part 3: Give Thanks!

Anastasis Faith

How can I approach change with the right mindset?


Part 1 of this mini-series was about joy, and part 2 was about prayer. In this final installment, I want to talk about the last part of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. How can we give thanks in all of our circumstances, even if they aren’t ideal?

“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

Part 3: Give Thanks

    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines thankful as being “conscious of benefit received; expressive of thanks; or well-pleased.” I can think of times when I have expressed thanks in all those ways. When I receive gifts, I am thankful to the person who gave it to me. When someone goes out of their way to help me or make time for me, I feel thankful towards them. When something works out in my favor or I succeed on a task, I am thankful for the work and effort that caused the results.

    A lot of times, when we think of being thankful, we picture it circumstantially: we are thankful for moments, for people, for events. While this is a good habit, what about the times when the moments, people and events don’t naturally make us feel thankful—when events are cancelled, when people fail us, when moments are disappointing? Rightly, we may feel some sadness about those circumstances. How can God expect us to “give thanks in all circumstances” when sometimes the circumstances don’t evoke in us a sense of thankfulness?

    Paul, the author of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, shares this command with us even though he has been in some pretty awful circumstances. His whole life was flipped upside down when he left his old lifestyle and embraced the Gospel. His conversion led to a life of travelling, preaching, being persecuted and spending plenty of time imprisoned for his faith. Yet in almost every book in the New Testament that Paul wrote, he mentioned joy and gratefulness. His joy came not from his circumstances, but from his God.

    The three actions of this verse—rejoice, pray, give thanks—are connected. Paul can rightly command us to give thanks in all circumstances, because ultimately it is not about the circumstances, but about the God who saved us and gives us every reason to rejoice. Prayer helps us to refocus our minds on fellowshipping and worshipping God, reminds us of what He has done in our lives, and is an avenue for us to express our thankfulness to Him.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Maybe this year will bring you success in your goals, exciting new opportunities, and strength to break free of old and sinful habits. Rejoice in your triumphs, pray to God for direction, and be grateful! But maybe, this year will not bring anything new or exciting. Maybe it will bring hardships and failures and bad news, maybe your temptations and sins will seem especially burdensome and hard to escape. Still, I urge you to rejoice, pray, and give thanks to God, for that is what He desires from us.

And if you are a normal human, then I expect this coming year will be full of ups and downs, successes and failures, temptations and the strength to endure them, spiritual growth and times of stagnant faith.

My appeal to you is this: whether change happens or doesn’t, whether you have trials or triumphs this year, let your hope be fixed on something much steadier than your own circumstances. Remember your standing before God and all He has done and will do in your life:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103:3-5

Whatever happens this year, choose to rejoice in the Lord, choose prayer, and choose thankfulness! This is the will of God for those who are in Christ Jesus! (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Brittanie is a recent college graduate, new wife, and expectant mother! She enjoys spending time with family, serving her church, and encouraging her friends. You can follow her on Instagram: @djbritbrit
  
What goals/plans will you make to give thanks this year? Share in the comments!

Anastasis Faith / Author & Editor

Anastasis is a Texas girl who enjoys writing, blogging, and music. You can connect with her here on her blog, or at morningglorypursuingjesus @yahoo.com

2 comments:

  1. Being thankful in ALL circumstances can be so difficult, but so needful!!
    Thank you so much, Anastasis!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true! It's crazy to think that every circumstance is God's grace in our lives, isn't it?

      I'm glad you enjoyed the article! I'm very thankful for the time Brittanie spent writing this series! :)

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete

Leave a comment! I read every one of them.

Coprights @ 2016, Blogger Template Designed By Templateism | Templatelib