Thanksgiving in a Fallen World
How Can We Be Thankful?
How can we be thankful in a time like this? As I read the news, all I see are articles about wars, riots, political fighting, violent crimes, etc. Each article explains how terrible the situation is, how it impacts others' lives, and how it may impact my life. The temptation is to be fearful and depressed. I am sure that if you are paying attention to the news, you are seeing the same thing and may be asking, "How we can go into Thanksgiving with a genuinely thankful spirit when all this bad stuff is happening?"
The Perspective of Faith
Thankfully there is more to life than the bad things happening in the world. Scripture says:
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Christians are instructed to give thanks in all situations, whether good or bad. We are not told to ACT happy, FORCE joy, or ATTEMPT to be thankful. The command is to "GIVE thanks..."
This command is hard to obey when it appears the world is crumbling around us. When Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy wrote to the Thessalonians (see 1 Thessalonians 1:1), they were warning about great struggles that were happening or going to happen to the church. The Christians reading the letter were aware that they may be put to death for their faith in Christ. Yet, they are told to give thanks.
The only way Christians can be thankful is to look at their salvation in Christ,
"For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
While we deserved wrath for our sins, God has given us life in Christ. Our identity in Christ lifts our heads to look up from the pits of depravity to place our eyes on the Lord of our salvation.
We recognize that the worst situations in this world will not take away the reward of salvation from us. Christ is advancing His kingdom of redemption and gradually subduing all enemies under His feet.
"For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet." (1 Corinthians 15:25)
In other words, Christ is building His church by saving sinners and changing their hearts; and He will not be stopped by Satan or all the forces of evil put together.
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)
We do not need to lie about the world and act like everything is ok. Instead, we should see the horrors of the fallen world and rejoice that the King of kings is righting all those wrongs. His kingdom is growing unstoppably to the ends of the earth.
We rejoice that the murderers, liars, sexually immoral, and any other sinner will be defeated. "Like once were some of you." When we were sinners, God defeated us and made us His children. Can that happen for others or does it only apply to you? Of course God is redeeming others. In the end, all those not redeemed by Christ will be defeated and face eternal judgment. God will judge all things perfectly.
No matter what is happening in the world, we can find joy and thanksgiving in our salvation in Christ. We can see the blessings God has and is giving to us each day. The darkness of the world magnifies the light of our God. As Christians, we must come together and help one another remember the blessings of our Lord.
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing," (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
We must remind one another of the great works God is doing. We must affirm and remind one another of our salvation in Christ alone. Is the breath you have in your lungs from you? Did you form the trees to grow and produce fruit? Can you form a human brain to have thoughts? The answer is absolutely not! God is the one that has provided all these things and many more. Sometimes, through love, we must be reminded that God is good and is not losing. Encourage one another in love and look to the victorious king of our salvation.
This Thanksgiving, take time with others to meditate on the goodness of God. Remind one another about the salvation in Christ alone. Thank God for all the good things in your life, big and small. Pray for the pain and wickedness of the world, trusting that God is redeeming all.