“Give thanks in every situation,” Paul writes. Easy for him to say – he was only in a Roman prison. He should try living in Cary in 2014 with all of our issues. “Give thanks in every situation.” Yeah, right.
Too often, the thanks I feel like giving is “thanks a lot” said with a slightly sarcastic tone (I know, it’s hard for you to imagine that I can adopt a sarcastic tone but there it is). Thanks a lot that this got dumped into my lap. Thanks a lot that I have to be at the meeting when a Duke basketball game is on. Thanks a lot that my dinner with Mary-Ellen was interrupted by three phone calls. Thanks a lot.
The truth is, however, that Paul was on to something and perhaps we should pause and give it due consideration. “Give thanks in every situation” may not simply be an aphoristic catchphrase; it may be a way of life. A life that looks toward thanksgiving, no matter the circumstance, becomes a life that is lived toward God, more like Jesus, inspired by the Spirit. Thanks giving is not a holiday. It is a posture, a disposition, an attitude. “Thanks a lot” becomes not a sarcastic retort but a genuine prayer, a reminder that every circumstance contains within the possibility for an encounter with the Holy One.
“Give thanks in every situation,” Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians (5:16-24). Maybe he knew more than it seems at first glance. We’ll ponder that on Sunday as we finish our sermon series on “Thank You Notes” and as the church year comes to a close on Christ the King Sunday. I’ll give thanks for seeing you there.
Grace and peace.