There are so many things I’m thankful for this year. But this past Sunday, our pastor encouraged us to think about giving thanks in a different way.
To start off, when you reflected on this Thanksgiving season, what did you find yourself being thankful for? Maybe your family, job, health, the Cubs win, or random acts of kindness from strangers. Don’t get me wrong, these are very important things to be thankful for! But there’s something else that might not get as much attention, and that’s other people’s faith in God.
When you look at the letters that Paul wrote to the various churches, the majority of the letters start with a similar greeting. Then a few verses later, Paul uses the phrase “I [we] give thanks…”.
Just look at the references below:
1 Corinthians 1:4 – “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…”
Ephesians 1:15-17 – “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saint, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…”
Philippians 1:3-4 – “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with you…”
Colossians 1:3 – “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…”
1 Thessalonians 1:2 – “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers…”
2 Thessalonians 1:3 – “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly…”
2 Timothy 1:3 – “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”
Philemon 4 – “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers…”
Today, let’s go beyond thanking God for the things in our lives, or the people who have done things for or to us. Let’s thank God for the people who have truly made an impact in our lives because of their faith. The people who remained at your side while you were grieving or straying away. The people who demonstrated great faith when they were in financial crisis. The person who forgave his/her enemy. The people who prayed with you during times of transition.
Take a moment to write that person a letter, card, or email to express your gratitude. They could be just as encouraged and uplifted because keeping the faith in times of trouble is not easy either. The more we express our thanks to each other for keeping the faith, the more we build up our body.
Lastly, pray for those particular people. Pray that they will continue to look to God to strengthen their faith. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for those people in your lives.
I hope this season of Thanksgiving is remembered by individually thankful hearts, and a greater church body that is thankful for each member.