Do I Really Have To Give Thanks?
Originally published in Church Production Magazine, June 2016.
An instruction we read several times throughout the Bible is to give thanks in everything. A simple statement, but seriously? Certainly the Bible can’t be right. Check me on this, but I don’t think the scriptures written back then had much to do with the future world of live production, did they? If they had, perhaps they wouldn’t have written something so…well, trite. Let’s get real, right? Maybe…
From early on, my mom always told me, “Give thanks in everything.” Talk about an irritating thing to hear when you are a kid! All it really seemed to do was aggravate me. I didn’t want to have ANYONE tell me that when I was upset or angry, even my own mom. Being far too young to understand the simplicity of the statement, it was easier to just get mad (it’s still kind of nice, mind you). Even though I never let on, I understand now that she was attempting to demonstrate a perspective on life as seen through God’s eyes.
That being said, even as I progressed into adulthood, I STILL hated when someone would quip a “give thanks” scripture after a situation had taken a turn for the worst. It’s not that I disagreed with it, it was just irritating to hear someone utter something that sounded so cliché when things seemed dire. Let’s yell or burn off some aggression, but let’s NOT use simple-minded little Sunday school quotes…
But as I grew older and gained some maturity, some perspective on life, and perhaps began to realize what my place was in regards to my work and the future God had for me, I started to consider this whole “give thanks” deal a little more seriously. Ponder this:
Of the many times Paul includes a “give thanks” statement in his letters throughout the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 offers this sentiment in a pretty cool way:
“...Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The Message translation (written in a way my brain comprehends nicely) says it a bit cooler this way:
“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”
I’ll bet “cheerful” is about the LAST thing anyone would accuse me of being. But this scripture does bring up a good point. God has been quite faithful to provide for my family for many years. He’s allowed me to do something I love, work with some great and incredibly talented people, and amass a great deal of knowledge and experience that can be used to further His kingdom. WOW doesn’t even come close. Even the TERRIBLE production experiences here and there have helped shape me by helping me learn how NOT to do something.
I have slowly learned to give thanks for those occurrences as they are all part of a bigger journey. On occasion, I even make an attempt to fathom how God has ordained my steps over the years and understand how He knew every single detail of my situation far before I did. All the experiences I’ve had, the great wins, some brutal defeats, the occasional bout of loneliness, the apprehension, the sacrifices…all of it has been vital to who I am as a man and who I have become in Christ. Let us all be grateful and give thanks today knowing that our God has put us each in a unique place to not only serve His kingdom but to have a role in helping others experience face to face moments with Him. Is there any higher calling?