By Jennifer Neal
As an accountant, my approach to Scripture can be pretty formula-driven. I read a text like 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” and I see three parts. First, give thanks; second, in all circumstances, and third, it’s God’s will. This is really straightforward in my mind, but let me tell you a story of just one way this can be demonstrated in our daily lives.
I love Thanksgiving. I love the cooking, the eating, the conversations with family, the fall colors, the time to reflect on the many blessings that God has given me and my family, the games, and the leftovers. Thanksgiving, the holiday, is so chock-full of family traditions that each year I wouldn’t dream of missing it. What better way to give thanks than to have a holiday devoted to it? But celebrating on one day with my family doesn’t seem to cover in all circumstances.
God laid it on my heart many years ago to be intentional about thankfulness with my friends and neighbors—not just my family. So, since I love celebrating Thanksgiving so much, I started a tradition of my own to have a “Thanksmas” gathering the first weekend in December. “Thanksmas” is the merging of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with friends and neighbors who are scattered to their own families during the official holidays. We have the food, and the deeper conversations about what God is doing in our lives, how we are thankful for God’s blessings and grace, and how we celebrate the season of his birth. Giving thanks was just not a normal part of my daily conversation with people, especially those that don’t know the Lord as their Savior. Creating an intentional circumstance to bring together friends from all kinds of backgrounds has given me and my family the opportunity to share God’s love and demonstrate his faithfulness.
I think it is God’s will for all of us to be intentional about creating the circumstances to share our thankfulness. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate Thanksmas gathering, but we all need to be thankful, no matter the circumstance, and share that with those around us. I’m thankful that God has brought us eternal life through Christ Jesus. What are you thankful for?
Jennifer Neal is the chief financial officer for Church of God Ministries.