“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
Duck Dynasty is probably best known by the dinner scene at the end of almost every episode that shows our family gathered together around the table eating, talking and laughing. When our show aired its first episodes back in 2012, it was compared to the Andy Griffith Show and to The Walton’s, most likely because of the closeness of our family and the values in which we try to live our lives, but mainly because of how we give thanks to our God before our family meals and periodically during other family moments like weddings and even surgeries.
It’s easy to thank God when you have an abundant meal laid out in front of you that will satisfy everyone at the table. But what about the times when it’s not so easy to give thanks to God? What about when you’re going through a tough time? What about when you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for that big family meal that your children are expecting? What about when you’re going through a health crisis or a scare and don’t see how you can possibly thank God for that? What about when your child has turned his back on God and on you and is living a life of selfishness and turmoil? How can you possibly thank God in any of these circumstances?
Being thankful is not a suggestion that Paul made. In fact, right above that in verses 16-17, Paul says, “Be joyful always; pray continually.” That is even harder to do in difficult circumstances. Does Paul even know what he’s talking about? Actually, he does. Paul spent many nights in prison for simply sharing his faith. He was beaten, starved and left to die on more than one occasion. Yet, he still sang songs of praise sitting on a dirt floor, chains and shackles on his wrists and ankles, kept behind bars, neglected, not knowing if he will ever see the sun again.
If you are reading this devotional, you either have a computer or a cell phone. That alone is something to thank God for. Living in this country where there is an abundance of everything at every turn is something to be thankful for. Even if you do not have the means to care for your own family alone, there are churches and organizations in every town across this nation who are willing and able to help. Thank you, God, for fellow Americans who care so much about their neighbors.
You can thank God for the medicines and surgical procedures available today that were not even in the minds of people just a few years ago. Because of their ingenuity and determination, people are living longer with less pain. Thank you, God, for our healthcare.
Keep praying to God over your child who seems to have lost his or her way. Don’t stop asking Him to bring them back, but try to add a prayer of thanksgiving as well. Thank God for bringing that child into your life and thanking Him in advance for doing what needs to be done, even though you may have no idea what that looks like and may never know.
Thanksgiving Day is a day that our forefathers designed hundreds of years ago. They understood how God brought them out of a harsh and controlling government to a new land and a state of freedom. They left their comforts of cities, towns and security and fled to a life of the unknown, wooden shacks, dirt floors and hard work. But they saw the bigger picture. They thanked God for leading them there and helping them.
As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has officially started, try to remember to thank God every single day, not just this Thursday. Try something new in your home that will help you remember to live a life of thanksgiving all through the holidays and maybe even through the next year. Our family will be making a Thanksgiving Tree. We will write our blessings on ornaments and hang them on the branches so that we can see them every single time we walk by. Hopefully, this will help us remember to thank God for them not just this Thursday but every day! Yes, we will have a Christmas tree, but before that one goes up and the craziness of making lists and checking them twice gets into high gear, I want my family to stop and remember how much we are blessed – how thankful we are for Mia’s current health, for Reed’s talents in music, for Cole’s good grades and work ethic, for Jase’s ability to put food on our table and for my “Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” book that has helped many people. Oh, there is so much more to be thankful for!
Will you try it this week? Take a branch or two from a tree outside your home, stick it in a jar or bottle and buy or make your own ornaments. Write with chalk or a permanent marker the blessings you have been given. Then, and this is the most important thing, pray over them. You will most likely run out of room on your branches!
Live a week, month, year and life of thanksgiving! Blessings to you all.