This past week has been an adventure… The governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, has ordered another COVID response closing restaurants, schools, and other businesses and activities. There has been a rise in cases in our state and many others. I know you may say, “That’s because more people are being tested.” And you’d be right… We thought that there would have been NO WAY we’d still be dealing with this by Christmas, yet here we are.
Wherever you fall on the COVID spectrum from: “this is a Fake crisis” to “this is the worst thing ever” and believe me I have both of those extremes and too many to mention in between, but we still have to deal with it.
I know we debate the church's response and I pray you have been thoughtful and kind to one another in your discourse and your actions.
But I want to invite you to a different conversation…. Should our prayer to God only be “Save us?” What if, on this thanksgiving week, we considered a different prayer.
Philippians 4:6, “Thank Him for all He’s done…”
I have heard how the church is being the church in spite of and even as a result of the pandemic. Through His people, God is loving and caring for our world. Phone calls, doorbell ditch food baskets, prayers via Facebook, too many other acts of loving kindness to mention. And your Webcast… people have been watching your church services ALL AROUND THE WORLD. The message is being proclaimed in new and creative ways. Thank God for what He is doing through you and your church!
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” We are learning in a new way to thank God in the difficult times, even when we can’t see the good… and it only feels bad! James 1 tells us we grow from these challenges; he even says count it a joy! Maybe joy comes a little after, but thanksgiving is a command, right in the midst.
But that’s not where Paul ends… Ephesians 5:20, “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.” Oh Paul, now you’re pushing this thanksgiving thing a little far! In everything sure, for everything – that’s a different level. Thanking God for everything in the midst of a crisis, problem, diagnosis – that’s just too hard. Yes, by your own power and grit you’re right. By His grace and help you can experience God's power to trust that He’s at work and thank Him for His work.
Thanksgiving is a part of our worship - Ps 30:12
Thanksgiving is a sacrifice that honors God - Ps 50:23
Thanksgiving is an act of obedience - Psalm 118:29
Thanksgiving is a service to others - 1 Timothy 2:1
Thanksgiving releases the power of God - 2 Chronicles 20:21
So… in, for, and as a response to your circumstances – Give thanks!
I also know this as a DS, traveling to churches all over Michigan and meeting new people weekly, I can join Paul in this too. “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” - Philippians 1:3. I love the Michigan Nazarenes – green and white, blue and maize, Lions or Tigers… it doesn’t matter, God has brought us together and with you, I seek to lean into His call to be thankful. Enjoy gathering with family, even if it’s a zoom call for dinner, and be thankful!