While I appreciate the sentiment of those intentionally sharing something for which they are thankful everyday in the month of November, I cannot help but think we have still missed the mark on recognizing what thanksgiving means from a gospel-centered perspective.
Nothing is wrong with thanking God for all the good things He has given us. James 1:17 reminds us that every good gift comes from God. They find their origin as gifts for us in Him. We should thank Him in that way.
However, if we only thank God for the good things in our lives, we have missed an opportunity to truly show how the gospel changes us and our perspective. Do we thank God for everything, even the negative circumstances?
The psalms repeatedly tell us to come into God’s presence with thanksgiving, never saying this only applies with the positive. Paul told the church in Thessalonica to give thanks in everything for this is God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He said the Philippians were to bring all of their request to God with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).
It is a good thing to refocus our lives in order to concentrate on the positives in our lives. It is a better thing, a gospel thing, to see even the negative circumstances as opportunities to thank God.
Those apart from Christ, through personal effort, can look past the bad and think only about the good in their lives. Only the Christian, through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, can look into the bad and see it as something God will use for our good.
Romans 8:28 is clear that, for those who love God, He will work everything out for their good and His glory. That doesn’t mean He will take away all the bad, it means He will redeem it for His purposes.
In Genesis, when Joseph was sold into slavery and wrongfully imprisoned, he was able to recognize God’s hand leading him through those times. His brothers had meant that for evil, God intended it for good (Genesis 50:20).
The point is not that Joseph was glad to be a slave and a prisoner. The point is not that you should be celebrating getting laid off, losing a loved one, or having things just not go our way.
The point is that we see through those circumstances to the One who is ultimately in control and will redeem our trials into our triumphs. Our job is to praise Him and thank Him even before we see Him bring it about.
Our viewpoint is changed by the gospel. We recognize not just good circumstances as blessings from our Father, but even negative circumstances as such.
If nothing else, the difficult situations in life provide opportunities to trust God even more and grow closer to Him. That is the ultimate goal because He is the ultimate good.
This Thanksgiving, you can be thankful regardless of the situation in which you find yourself because no matter what surrounds you, going through it will lead you to God.
In everything, even the bad things, give thanks because in everything you can see God.