Pastor Larson’s Corner: Giving thanks
The Bible says a lot about giving thanks to God. Perhaps the most difficult words on the subject come from I Thessalonians 5:16. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Unfortunately, there are many circumstances in life where it is difficult if not impossible to feel thankfulness in our hearts. The Apostle Paul certainly knew this when he wrote these words. Paul wrote most of his letters from prison. Calamities of all sorts plagued Paul throughout his ministry. There were beatings, imprisonments, ship wrecks, and continual bad health. Still in the midst of all this he could write, “Give thanks to God in all circumstances.”
Obviously, Paul’s sense of thanksgiving did not depend upon his immediate circumstances in life. Instead, he was deeply thankful in his heart for all that God had done for him in Christ. He rejoiced in the gift of salvation and life that had come to him even though he had persecuted the church for many years. He knew that nothing could separate him from God’s love and Grace and this filled him with thanksgiving and joy.
As we celebrate another Thanksgiving season we may have little difficulty finding things to be thankful for. For many of us, each day brings blessings almost without number. Unfortunately, for some, this Thanksgiving Day will bring less joy. It may even be a time of sorrow and pain. Perhaps reflecting on the life of the Apostle Paul, who found joy and reasons to be thankful throughout his life, can help. By remembering how he struggled in this life, we may begin to understand how we too can, “Give thanks to God in any and all circumstances.”
Pastor Larson’s Corner is written by Jerry Larson and appears weekly in the Norwegian American Weekly.
Pastor Jerry Larson retired to his cabin in Zimmerman, Minn., after 39 years in parish ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2011 he published a book entitled “Speaking the Word Freely: Writing with purpose, preaching with power.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 20, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.