Believers are instructed to be actively “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, KJV).
However, the trials of life – as well as our own hearts – can leave Christians more desperate than thankful. After all, sin has ravaged the world and all people, whether directly or indirectly, must deal with the consequences.
Financial woes, failing health, and societal degradation are but a few examples that could cause one to wonder if they have any blessings at all.
Nevertheless, those who have placed their faith in Jesus are commanded to be thankful in all situations, regardless of circumstances. That can be a tall order, but when believers fix their gaze heavenward, they are reminded of the blessing of following Christ.
The Stand offers the following five blessings to consider this Thanksgiving season.
God’s fatherly presence
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God … Beloved, now are we the sons of God …” (1 John 3:1-2).
Throughout Scripture, many names are used to describe God’s characteristics and attributes. All are important, but few are able to relate to man the way Abba Father does. The term is used three times in the New Testament, each offering a glimpse of God’s fatherly nature, presence, and care for His people (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:14-15; Galatians 4:5-6).
The term’s use in Scripture indicates the closeness and personal nature of God. He is not a cold and distant god that only exists in one’s imagination or on the pages of a religion’s holy book.
He is the one true God, and He, as a Father, is approachable.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, man has the privilege of going boldly into the very presence of God (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19,22).
While He must be approached with reverence, He need not be approached as a tyrant or authoritarian, but as a Father.
God’s faithful provision
God’s faithful provision to His people is astounding. The pages of Scripture are replete with accounts of God providing exactly what His people needed and precisely when they needed it.
Few things are more encouraging than hearing other believers share testimonies of God's faithfulness in their lives.
David said, “I have been young, and [now] am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
David spoke those words after he had experienced many difficulties. In no way was he implying life would always be easy, rather that God would make a way and would supply the needs of His people.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ instructed believers to “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. … your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things …” (Matthew 6:25;32).
God’s familial prescription
Though God’s prescription for the individual family unit is a blessing, there is a broader familial structure that also compels our thankfulness.
Consider the way God has ordain that those from different walks of life, backgrounds, and individual families come together to form a single body – the family of God.
All men are born undeserving of God’s mercy and grace. But through Jesus, a man born in sin can be adopted into God’s family, and be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
Do children born into a wealthy family earn their inheritance? Generally, no. They receive it as a benefit of the family into which they were born.
Although man is not naturally born into the family of God, through Christ he can be adopted, and become “children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ …” (Romans 8:17).
In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul describes the believer’s inheritance:
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34).
Although an earthly inheritance can be squandered, lost, or even stolen, Peter writes the believer’s inheritance as “undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven … kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:4-5).
If man would consider his wicked nature and sinful ways, then juxtapose those to a sinless, holy, and righteous God, who would declare they deserve mercy, much less grace? No one.
Yet through salvation in Christ, the offer of forgiveness is extended to all who accept it.
And God’s forgiveness is much greater than man’s, which is often conditional and temporal.
Forgiveness in Christ not only frees sinners from God’s just penalty, but also dismisses the charges. That does not mean there are no consequences, but it does mean there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1, Colossians 1:14).
From the cross Jesus uttered the word tetelestai, translated, “It is finished.”
In ancient times people would keep a record of debts, a ledger, and when a person’s debt was satisfied, the debt holder would record the transaction as tetelestai, meaning that the debt was paid in full.
Likewise, the penalty for a man’s sin is paid in full as he comes to Christ in faith. As a result, forgiveness is secured.
His sure future
It is tempting to look around and despair. The potential of war looms unchecked corruption exists in the highest offices in the land, attempts to rob children of their innocence abound, and on and on the list goes.
The future seems bleak. And indeed, when we look to this world for consolation, the future is bleak. But external circumstances should not dictate how Christians react nor steal joy from the certain hope the future holds in Christ. For the believer, the future is not bleak, but bright.
Christians should be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Christians have comfort knowing their future and eternity are secure in Him, whether they close their eyes in death or live to see His return.
Furthermore, in the future, all things will be set right.
When Jesus came the first time, many were looking for a military leader who would lead an insurrection, overthrow Rome, avenge Israel, and secure freedom. Instead, God mercifully sent His Son as a humble servant to save sinners.
Christ’s second coming, however, will be different. He will establish and execute justice and judgment (Revelation 19:11-16). His enemies will be defeated, the ills of the world rectified, and those who have trusted in Him will reign with Him forever.
Now Christian, fix your eyes upward, and offer thanks to God for all you have in Him.
(Digital Editor's Note: This article was published first in the November 2023 print edition of The Stand).