A junk collector was pushing his cart along the sidewalk, collecting items he could sell. He came to a woman sweeping and asked, “Any old beer bottles, madam?” The woman frowned. “How dare you! Do I look like the type of woman who would drink beer?” The collector made a mock bow. “Pardon me Madam. I was mistaken. Any old vinegar bottles and pickle jars?” 1Thess. 5:18 tells us “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Does God really mean everything? How can we give thanks in tough times?
I believe Psalm 73 provides some secrets on how to be thankful in the midst of discouragement. The Psalm opens with Asaph seeming to sound a note of thanksgiving, but as you continue reading, you realize he was so discouraged he was struggling with being truly thankful. What caused his discouragement? Asaph was angry that sinners seemed to be “getting away with murder.” The wicked were having a great time partying as they pleased, but he and others who were trying to live a Godly life were having nothing but trouble. It seemed so unfair.
Is there anything bugging you about God’s dealings with you? Is there anything making it hard for you to be thankful in everything? We can be sure of this; resentment about God’s dealing with us will eventually snowball if not dealt with. Things really snowballed with Asaph.
In verse 13, Asaph pondered if keeping his heart clean was really worth it. Why make the effort to live a clean life since it appeared the ungodly could live in open sin without consequence? Soon he started seeing himself as a victim. In verse 14, he stated that “all day long” he had been afflicted “and every morning brings new punishments.” What an exaggeration! It’s so easy to focus on our problems and see ourselves as victims. But that’s partly because we often forget to count our blessings. Despite our challenges we are still a very blessed people.
Asaph eventually had a big turnaround. What gave him back the spirit of thanksgiving? Here are 4 observations that may help us as we seek to Make Every Day a Day of Thanksgiving:
- Practice Treasuring the Lord. It starts by spending time in his presence. Asaph said in verse 17 that his change came when he went into the Sanctuary of God. Here are a few additional scriptures to ponder: Psalm 73:24-26, Songs of Solomon 3:1-4 and Psalm 42:1-2.
- Look at life from an Eternal Perspective. Heaven is our home, but judgment is ahead for the ungodly. In the meantime God is chiseling away on us, to make us more like Jesus. The chisel is no fun, but God is perfecting us into his masterpiece. Read verses 18-24.
- Remember that God is still in full control. The Supreme, Sovereign God is causing all things to work together for our good. Isn’t that wonderful! God is bigger than your problem. Trust Him!
- Be willing to confess. In verse 22, Asaph confessed to God that he was wrong. Perhaps the Spirit of God is pointing out to you some areas where you’re wrong, some aspects of your life that are out of alignment. Why not fix it this Thanksgiving? “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And that promise is something to be truly thankful for.