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Seriously? Thankful on Thanksgiving in 2022?

I’m an optimist by nature. Like many others, I naturally try to look on the bright side…if I can find one. Every Christian should be an optimist because we know that everything will turn out good in the end. Look at the specific wording of this famous Bible promise:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, emphasis added)

If we do “know” that God will work everything out for our good, we will have a joyful attitude in every circumstance. A pessimist is the opposite. The dictionary defines him as someone “tending to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen.” How then could any Christian be a pessimist?

While it takes effort to be optimistic, it’s easy to be pessimistic. With little effort, a pessimist can daily find more joy than an optimist. Let me give you an example. If I’m driving toward a distant green light and optimistically say, “I hope that it’s going to stay green,” more than likely I’ll be disappointed. That’s just the way life and lights work.

If I instead pessimistically say, “That light is going to turn red on me. I just know it,” and it turns red, I’m proven right—and that’s my consolation. And, if it stays green and I sail through, I’m delightfully surprised. I have joy both ways. Life for a pessimist has far less disappointments when it comes to traffic lights, weather, politics, and daily problems.

I, therefore, don’t blame any unbeliever for backing into the refuge of a cynical pessimism. This is because we live in a fallen creation where sin and suffering pervade. There’s nothing to be optimistic about. Every day we look at the news, there’s been horrific school shootings; the economy is tanking; there are droughts, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The future looks bleak—with impending nuclear war on the horizon. Disease is on the increase, and so is suicide and daily violence. How then can a Christian abound with thanksgiving without feeling like he or she is not being honest about life?

What Has He Done? 

Here’s an interesting experiment. Ask any unbeliever if God has ever done anything for him. You’ll get a variety of answers. Some will point to a specific answer to prayer. God came through for them with a scholarship. Or they escaped harm in what could have been a deadly accident. Others might not be able to think of anything that God has done for them. These answers reveal a subtle form of idolatry. God is seen as a backup heavenly helper. That’s about all He does. But the Christian knows better. He knows that his ability to see, breathe, eat, swallow, sleep, and drink all comes from God. His heart beats because his Creator made it and keeps it beating. The Creator tells it to stop, and life on earth is over.

“When we’re going through a tough time, that’s when we are able to display our trust in God.”

Everything we have is a gift from God, including music, love and laughter, finances, friends, and family. We know that life itself is a gift from God. He formed us in the womb. Therefore, our hearts abound with thanksgiving to God for all His amazing benefits. But there are at least two other reasons for us to have a thankful heart.

The Bible says that without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The inference is that with faith we can please Him. We can see this happening in the Gospels. When one man had faith in Jesus, He actually “marveled” (see Matthew 8:5-13). Here’s my point. When we’re going through a tough time, that’s when we are able to display our trust in God. We don’t look at the lion’s teeth. We look to the truth we know in Romans 8:28. When we’re at the edge of the Red Sea and see no way of escape but have a thankful attitude—that sort of faith pleases Him. That is a “trial” of our faith.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ… (1 Peter 1:7, KJV)

Therefore, the next time you’re going through a fiery trial, pause and thank God from your heart that all things are working together for good—because you love Him and you are called according to His purposes. And then, with an optimism that is based on that promise, trust for Him to shut the mouth of the lion or open the Red Sea. Even if He—in His infinite wisdom—allows the lion to devour us or the Red Sea to cover us, the promise is still true…even in such a dark hour. That’s our joyful consolation.

“The next time you’re going through a fiery trial, pause and thank God from your heart that all things are working together for good—because you love Him and you are called according to His purposes.”

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

On top of all that, there is an even greater reason for our thanksgiving to abound. Again, it’s understandable that the world finds refuge in pessimism. But we see something the world cannot see: the gospel. In it, God stopped the lion’s mouth and opened the Red Sea. Through the cross, death lost its power to devour, and the path of everlasting life opened up through the resurrection. Now we say with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

In the face of such a glorious gospel, how could we not explode with thanksgiving? We have an immutable and eternal display of love in the past, and we have the marvelous promise of a bright future.

But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)

There’s no room for pessimism for the Christian. Whether the light turns green or stays red, we have His promise that it’s working for our good, no matter what. We are going to make it through.

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters, a bestselling author, and has written more than 100 books, including, The Evidence Study Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program Way of the Master, which airs in 190 countries.

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