By Clifton Angel
I am a member of the social network Facebook. It was there that I read the rather telling infographic: “November … the month where people who have complained on Facebook for the past 11 months become thankful for 30 days.” The practice that many have of expressing specific thanksgiving each day of the month of November is a good one. It even may incite thanksgiving in others roundabout. However, let’s be sure not to become the person that is described in the infographic. Complaints are mostly expressions of ingratitude. And November certainly is not the only time in the year that we should express thanksgiving. So, when should we give thanks?
Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesus telling them that they should be “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Every day of our lives affords us a multitude of opportunities for which we should give thanks to God. For, it is He that gives us the day. And it is He that gives us every thing that is truly good. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). I am confident Paul has in mind “every good gift and every perfect gift” when he says to give thanks for “all things.”
Furthermore, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). One dear friend of mine has said, “I am thankful that Paul said ‘In every thing give thanks,’ and not, ‘Give thanks for every thing.’” His point was that we can be thankful even in times of tragedy, but it is not necessary that we be thankful for the tragedy itself. Very recently, my dad died unexpectedly. This is a tragedy for which I am not thankful. However, in the same day of the loss of my dad, I found things for which to be very thankful. I was (and still am) extremely thankful for the confidence that I have in his conversion to Christ. I was (and still am) truly thankful to have been with him when he died and to not have had to make a 430-mile trip after a tragic call. I was (and still am) abundantly thankful to know that his physical death contained far less suffering than the cancer or other lasting ailment with which I thought he would eventually be diagnosed. I was (and still am) thankful that my dad was doing one of his favorite things when he died—spending time with his only son.
When are we to give thanks? Always and in every thing. Not only in November. Every human being would do well to be more thankful and give thanks more often. When do you give thanks?
- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website.