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Pastor's Column 11/19/2023

PASTOR’S COLUMN


“Be thankful in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT

"Thankful"


Some years ago, a colleague in education took me to task about a number of Christian-Biblical teachings. She was a gifted and wonderful person, who adhered to another faith. As she saw matters, Christians were too vulnerable; using weak solutions to solve problems. She especially was critical of the Christian notion of suffering. So, one verse that emerged in her mental sky was the idea of “being thankful” in “all” circumstances. She understandably objected to the idea that any situation should elicit a spirit of thankfulness. I listened to her rebuttal intently. With a passionate awareness, I came to understand her notion of “being thankful,” was based primarily on feeling and emotion. She caused me to understand why we Christians are called a “peculiar people.” Our spiritual view does not always square with conventional notions of things. In addressing the first century Christians – who were enduring much hardship – Paul was not encouraging them to be thankful for every circumstance. He was saying, given the complexities and situations we encounter, we should always be thankful to God, who can help us through our challenges. Being thankful to God gives us a clearer perspective when the lines in our lives are blurred. Everything in life will not bring us joy; nor will we receive peace at every bend of the road. In such times we can be thankful that God sees us, and is aware of our needs. There is no situation, where God will not provide us with what we need. In order for us to be thankful we must learn something about the nature of God, and how He operates in our lives. I tried to explain this to my professor friend, but she just could not see things my way. Everyone will not understand us all the time. We can be thankful that we’re resolute in our beliefs, even as we’re compassionate toward others who may disagree. There are many puzzling circumstances that confront us in life, but however many; we can be thankful that God is always near us to point the way forward. The Christians in ancient Thessalonica were told to rejoice; pray; and be thankful in all that they do and encounter. It’s our assurance in God that makes us thankful!

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