I have Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot, an often painful knee, and golfers elbow in not one, but both elbows (and I don’t even play golf). It can literally be a real pain sometimes. And were I to host a pity-party about it all, I really only need to set a place for one. I’ve learned something over the years. No one really likes pity-parties, not even God. It is one thing to come alongside someone hurting, grieving, going through really hard times; that is what Christians do (e.g. Gal. 6:1-2). It is another to hang around someone who persists in a gray funk of feeling sorry for themselves. It can try even the most sincere friendships.
God has much to say about being thankful; here are just two of them: In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thess. 5:18) Giving thanks always fro all things to God… (Ephesians 5:20)
I know it is hard; and some days and seasons are much, much harder than others. But what is our perspective on gratitude? I can say that at 59 I’m doing pretty good. I have friends that have survived cancer, others that have lost jobs but found another. A very dear friend, abandoned and devastated by his mate of many years, found love again. These are blessings; wonderful, incredible things we can and should be thankful for. But there is something even more fundamental that we can and should be grateful for, especially if we are truly Christians: it’s having eternal life. To be sure, we often give lip service to it; we acknowledge it on our Sunday’s, but do we/you really have a perspective on what that really means? How many of you speak of eternal life as the “after-life”?
In Luke 16:25, Jesus informs us that Hell is a place where human beings are focused on the past, with no future before them. What are you focused upon? What about your today-life? What about your future-life?
Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) How might your marriage, your career (or retirement), your friendships, even your life change, if you saw them through the lens of eternal life, of really knowing your God… your Christ? In knowing God, truly knowing Him, you know of His presence (Heb. 13:5); you can see purpose and meaning in even the most difficult of your circumstances (Rom. 8:28); you need not fear today or the future (2 Tim. 1:7; John 14:1-3).
For the person without a biblical relationship with Jesus Christ, they have only the certainty of death, and an unknowable future of what lies belong. They may hope, even believe that life will cease upon death, or that maybe there is a heaven they might go to. They may even boast something like: “Heaven doesn’t want me, and Hell can’t handle me.” But they have no certain hope, no real future. And deep inside they know it. That’s what makes them so fearful, and often so angry, especially towards believers. But it also gives us opportunity to share the love of Christ.
As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, we not only have a certain future, but we live in the light of God’s love, grace, mercy, and hope today… today! We have His truth, His Word to guide usand give us purpose (2 Tim. 3:16-17), to remind us of His love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8); and to give us a sure and certain hope and peace (1 Pet. 1:3; Phil. 4:6-7; Gal. 5:22-23)… in our lives in the hear and now. So, what are you thankful for? What is your attitude on gratitude?
Looking Ahead… I pray you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving. And I so look forward to our special Prayer Service on Sunday where our focus will be upon “Thanksgiving Prayer and Praise”. I hope you can join us.