Give Thanks in All Circumstances?

This time of year, there are many opportunities for adults to listen in on children being asked, “What are you thankful for?” You can count on some standard answers: my parents, my toys, my food, my television, my dog, or school is out this week.

Yesterday in church, I heard an answer that made me catch my breath. A little boy, no more than four or five, said, “I’m thankful for my little sister who died in my arms, and for my sister who’s still with us.” The woman in charge of this sharing time during morning worship didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, we are too,” and she moved on to other children in the circle.

I was a visitor at that church. Perhaps everyone else in the small congregation knew the backstory. I was left with so many questions about the circumstances which brought out that response from a child. All I might presume about this family’s heartbreak are purely conjecture. It might not be true at all, but I think that little boy was expressing something very real to him.

But here’s my take-away from what I heard.

  • In the company of a group of people who knew and loved him, he felt comfortable to share it aloud in front of the whole congregation. Maybe they had heard the story before – perhaps many times.
  • His words seemed to echo adult words. Children absorb the ideas, actions, and attitudes of the grownups that surround them. It sounded like the adults in his life had conversations about this event with him and in front of him, and he voiced it as he understood it.
  • This tragedy was something he mentioned in the context of giving thanks. In spite of the grief in that family over a baby’s death, their faith must give meaning to the loss. Sometimes, we speak it until we believe it, nevertheless, that little boy heard it.

For this Thanksgiving, indeed, throughout this holiday season, people will be missing loved ones. This may be their first time to have family gatherings without those others present. It’s tough to be happy when their absence is so palpable. Although we, as Christians, are not without hope.

Yet Paul presents us with this challenge in I Thessalonians 5:18,

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I wonder if that little boy’s family had recited this verse among themselves.

The two verses that precede the one quoted above may give a clue to how we might do that when it’s really hard to be thankful.

1Th 5:16  Rejoice always,

1Th 5:17  pray without ceasing,

For those of you in the United States, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this week. May you find joy and peace in your celebration, as you give thanks to God for His many blessings.

Shalom, Dottie

2 thoughts on “Give Thanks in All Circumstances?

  1. Among the most difficult concepts for us humans to master is this idea of “giving thanks in all things.” How can we give thanks when our spouse dies, a child turns away, a beloved pet dies, etc. It’s taken many years; and I suspect many more to fully learn this, but Paul’s teaching doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t grieve; we should. Even “Jesus wept.” What we must come to understand though is that through the grieving, we can find thanks. Yes, my dad suffers from dementia; but Lord you gave him 89 wonderful years, almost fifty of them with me. You gave me a year to spend with him and prepare him for the end of his earthly life; I know He will enter into heaven’s glory with peace of mind and great anticipation. Yes, my dog Diogi and other beloved pets have died, but Lord you gave me precious time with each one of them, You used each one to teach me your life lessons. Thank you for this wonderful lesson dear friend. God’s blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

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