A couple of months ago I happened to be listening to someone who was being interviewed about the many difficulties and burdens of being rich and famous. I started to laugh aloud. The burden of being paid a salary in millions, followed up by a retinue of journalists and photographers, now that must be very difficult! How many millions are willing to carry the burden of being rich, how many of the poor are willing to trade places!
In the academy professors talk about how much they love to teach and do research, but they consider it a burden to have to grade all those papers. Even worse for them is the burden of coming to administrative meetings when they would rather do so many more important things. Then I thought of many of my friends who have finished their degrees and are still waiting for a teaching opportunity. They would love to have the opportunity that we have.
I traveled to a conference of my own kinsmen. The conversation was that our own people cannot understand us anymore now that we are bilingual and bicultural. The burden of explaining so many new things now that we have seen New York and are living in San Francisco! Then I thought of the millions who would love to carry that burden, but somehow are mono-lingual and mono-cultural because they have not had the opportunities that we had.
Then it dawned on me that in each of these events, we were complaining. The Bible wants to create a different type of humans - those who look to all things with thanksgiving. For that reason Paul writes:" Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (Thessalonians 5:18) Watch for the consistency of the verse versus our sporadic attitude. I am joyful sometimes and grumpy at other times, but the will of God for me is to be joyful always. I pray often, but the will for God is for me to pray continually, to make known to God all my requests before I do anything about them. I give to God thanks in most circumstances, but the will of God for me is to succeed in giving God thanks in all circumstances. Have you observed how many times we present the good, and then we continue talking about all the shortcomings associated with that good?
In a conversation with the disciples Jesus tells them that Satan is coming to tempt them, but that he will not find anything in Jesus Christ. (John 14:30) When I was a kid I imagined that the Devil was like an airplane seeking a place to land. In Jesus Christ there was no landing place, because He was always seeking to do exactly the will of His heavenly Father. In the lives of Peter and Judas the Devil found a landing place, he found an airport.
When I rejoice, pray and give thanks consistently, I am in the will of my heavenly Father. When I do these sporadically, I give an opportunity for the Devil to gain victory over me. I pray that at this Thanksgiving your heart will be filled with thanksgiving and this will become a holy, everyday habit.