I want to begin this letter by saying Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I pray that as you reflect and acknowledge God and all His abundance in this time, there is great joy and laughter with those you love and cherish. Mandy and I are so thankful for you and your relationship in our lives. We count it as one of our most valuable assets and gifts from God.
In line with the season and with the word the Lord spoke to me concerning Jeremiah 17:7 which reads, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…” I want to continue to encourage you about giving thanks, as it is the fruit of true trust.
Trust is created by truth. I believe that truth is under attack like never before. We are not to become deceived by new formulas of truth but instead led by the Spirit of truth into abundant freedom. As we follow this plan, seen from God’s word, confident trust is formed that will not flinch in the day of question but instead will stand firm and declare the greatness of God! When trust is formed by truth, we are given the command to express this trust by giving thanks in all things. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The decision to respond correctly to a situation or circumstance that confronts you is ultimately yours—you decide the response. A heart formed from a renewed mind that aligns itself with God’s divine counsel and purpose always chooses to give thanks no matter what it encounters.
With that said, I want to tell you of an experience that I had recently while returning home from one of my preaching engagements. I believe it exemplifies the daily temptations from unplanned moments that can shift our dependency to uncertainty.
I was headed back from Mobile, AL to Dallas, TX on a late evening flight. We were all boarded and ready to depart but sat waiting on the tarmac. After a delay, the captain came on and informed us that we were waiting on the crew to load our bags. Folks were getting restless as we were now 30 minutes behind schedule. Once we arrived, we were once again hindered. This time by the crowded gates which left no room for our aircraft. We waited again for about 25 minutes before being directed to our gate to deboard. During the long wait, an impatient commotion arose due to the concern of connecting flights. Folks began to complain and express their aggravations with the current conditions. In their defense, nothing creates an opportunity to be frustrated as the possibility of missing a connecting flight. At any rate, DFW was my destination, so I was more forgiving than some, but as I walked off the plane voices of other passengers’ opinions were being raised and the crowd that awaited our arrival also looked drained and irritated.
Giving thanks for a delayed or missed flight or even for a more serious turn of events in life is not the point nor what I believe God is commanding us to do.
Rather I believe that God is instructing us to respond to an unwanted moment with thanksgiving which aligns our hearts with His and elevates us to a heavenly perspective and victory. Through thanksgiving, the sting that the enemy planned to affect you is altered and turned into a moment of breakthrough and favor. Remember if trust is absolute dependency in God, then thanksgiving is the voice of absolute reliance. Thanksgiving must be audible. It’s not just the response to generosity or an act of kindness, it is the declaration that reveals the position of your heart. Thanksgiving is free of all complaints as every area of life is satisfied and fulfilled.
I want to emphasize that when we stop giving thanks in “All” things we inevitably begin to find fault with the care, provision, and protection that God has promised. Complaining about anything in life is the deterioration of our trust in God. Complaining empowers the inferior natural realm and undermines our faith. Complaining only happens when we are more mindful of a problem than we are of God and His word. Romans 1:21 reads, “…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” When there is a lack of thanksgiving, idolatry sets in which is not only the worship of a carved image but also the mind that is against God and lacks acknowledgment and gratitude towards Him.
In Numbers 14:2-3 the children of Israel began to complain against both their leader Moses and the Lord saying in verse 3, “Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”
I’ll say this, you cannot, at the same time, complain or criticize while also giving thanks for the goodness of God in your life. Complaining will keep you stationary and even return you to what God had previously delivered you from.
Thanksgiving is fortified and given strength by the knowledge of the goodness of God. Psalms 27:13 reads, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” God’s goodness is promised in Isaiah 1:19, God’s goodness is pursuing you in Psalms 23:6 and God’s goodness is actively working and promoting you in Romans 8:28. Giving thanks is a choice in a moment of trial that reveals the location of the heart and the outcome of life’s curveballs. “Now thanks be to God who ALWAYS leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14!