Word of the Month

Thank God for everything always

October 2012

“Give thanks always for all things to God the Father” (cf. Ephesians 5:20). That is how Paul puts it in his epistle to the Ephesians. In my eyes this is a fundamental attitude: our thankfulness must not be limited to specific events or moments when things are going well, nor should it be restricted to special days. On the contrary, gratitude in this sense is an attitude of heart. Particularly in our time, let us allow our hearts to speak, and let us persist in an attitude of thankfulness toward God.

Giving thanks for all things encompasses two areas: it covers both the natural and the spiritual creation. In other words, our gratitude applies to everything the Lord has created. Let us be thankful for everything! I see the celebration of Thanksgiving in a much broader context. It is not only limited to the expression of thanks for our food, or more specifically, that which is being harvested at this time of year. Gratitude belongs in a broader context: let us be thankful for everything!

I will begin with the earthly creation: let us be thankful for the life we have been granted. Let us be thankful for the food we have, or—to go a little further—for the necessities of life which the Lord grants us. Let us be thankful for the abilities we as human beings possess. It is not a matter of course that we can communicate with others, that we can move, and that we have so many other abilities as human beings. That is grounds for thankfulness. Let us also be thankful that we are not alone. There are other people around us: our families, our friends. Let us be grateful for them! I will go so far as to say that we should give thanks to God for our spouse.

Paul says that we should give thanks always. There is a special difficulty associated with this however. After all, there are also times of need. People are not always healthy. People do not always have enough to eat. In some latitudes this is a problem. Or perhaps the one or the other is out of work. At such times it is not easy to be thankful. However, gratitude is an attitude of heart, as I explained earlier. For this reason we can even be thankful in times of adversity by not focusing on that which we do not have, but on the good things we still have.

In addition to the natural creation there is also a spiritual creation. We have an immortal soul. We have the prospect of everlasting life: everlasting fellowship with the Lord! If we harbour this belief in our hearts, we should feel grateful that the Lord has arranged things in such a fashion. And just as the body needs nourishment in the earthly, so it is also in the spiritual. There must be something that sustains this life—and that is the word of God, as well as His divine grace. Let us be thankful for these gifts.

But there are also times of need in the spiritual sense. It may happen that problems arise in the congregation from time to time. There may at times be misunderstandings that result in conflicts. Let us not become fixated upon such imperfections. Rather let us rejoice in the good things. Let us try to come to grips with unpleasantness through dialogue and mutual understanding, and by being friendly and kind to one another.

We can see that the Lord grants us a broad range of good gifts for which we can be thankful in both the spiritual and earthly senses. Let us therefore not allow ourselves to be deterred from being grateful on account of difficulties or need. Let us give thanks with all our hearts. I call upon all of us to be thankful always for all things!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)