We go through a lot of difficult circumstances in life. In our church right now we have two young people in the hospital recovering from two separate car wrecks. We have one man who has been fighting pancreatic cancer for a year now and a lady who has just learned her cancer has relapsed. On top of that, we’ve had several deaths over the course of 2014, including one suicide.
It’s difficult to stand before these people and say, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” I don’t want to cheapen their pain. I don’t want to make them feel bad because they can’t find something to be thankful for. I want to validate their experiences and draw them closer to the presence of The Almighty.
As I approached this text, I saw that was exactly what The Almighty wanted for them too.
When I started my Thanksgiving series I wanted to preach this passage, but it just didn’t want to come together (you preachers know what I mean). I struggled with it and finally went to Colossians 2. The next week I came back to 1 Thessalonians 5 and, again, it just didn’t feel right, so I moved on to Colossians 3. When I finally came to 1 Thessalonians I felt like I had laid the groundwork for these commands, both for me and the listeners.
I think maybe that’s what needed to happen to me–I needed to get thanksgiving for myself. There was lots of great response to the series and–speaking for myself–I feel like the fruit of it will go far beyond the season.