“Rejoice always(1), pray continually(2), give thanks in all circumstances(3); for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Of these three counsels the apostle Paul gives us, I find the first and last difficult. Praying always, always? I got it, and I’ve learned how to practice it, and it is a blessing — but being joyful all the time, regardless of what is happening in my life? That’s tough. And on top of that, giving thanks for the adversities and hardships? That’s tougher.
What makes it difficult to process and follow His counsels is the reason He provides: it is God’s will for us. I ask myself why God wants me to have these sentiments and attitudes during a difficult time. What purpose does He have in mind for me? What is His ultimate goal for my life?
Contemporary research shows that gratitude helps us cope with traumatic episodes, balance our negative emotions and boost our well-being. However, more than 100 years ago, Ellen White wrote about the effects of gratitude and thanksgiving in our daily lives, such as peace, health, confidence, contentment and more. Please read it; you will find it insightful. (Click here.)
As we enter into this Thanksgiving season and approach the end of 2020, do we have reliable and thoughtful reasons to give thanks to the Lord? Yes, indeed, we do. Plenty. Abundant. Bountiful. It is a matter of remembering the counsel: forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).
This year was exceptional and one in a lifetime. We are living in an unexpected pandemic. And it has been a difficult, challenging year. We encountered isolation, sadness, uncertainty, anxiety, even job loss or hardship, not counting COVID-19 infection, including the death of loved ones. What a year!
All this impacted our relationships, our jobs, our finances, our emotional health and, for some, our spiritual life.
On the other hand, we found many opportunities to help those who were in need of something: encouragement, support, groceries, money, etc. There is no doubt that we have felt satisfaction in assisting others; we have sensed peace in the middle of danger (virus, riots, etc.) by relying on the promises of God.
As an SCC family, our experience is summarized in the lyrics of the song titled “Through It All.” I invite you to listen and reflect upon the lyrics.
Since this week, more restrictions for public gatherings are being imposed, at least here in Southern California. I invite you to spend some time contacting two or three persons who have impacted your life positively and saying thank you for the blessing they have been in your life.
Last but not least. On Thanksgiving Day, let’s dedicate one hour to reflect and enlist all the reasons why we are thankful to God for this year. After all, 2020 has been a blessed year. Praise God!
Grateful for His love and care,
Velino A. Salazar