How to Live the Bible — Thanksgiving in Difficult Times
This is the one-hundred-thirty-second lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
This verse is well known, but so so appropriate for today. “In every situation… with thanksgiving,” pray to God.
2020 has been a very difficult year. All of life was disrupted for almost everyone on the planet because of the global pandemic. We’ve been isolated from each other. Businesses have failed. Families are tense. Racial tensions have flared up. Political discourse has become like warfare. People have become weary and confused.
This is exactly the time for us to understand what it means to give thanks. For those of us in the USA that means the holiday we call Thanksgiving. Though this year it’s different.
The reason we need Thanksgiving now is that it’s an invitation for us to focus on whatever blessings have come our way. When we can be grateful, we’re raised up.
This is not to negate the losses and grief some are dealing with. When we’re in distress it may be hard to be thankful. We must mourn with our friends and family who’ve lost jobs, lost businesses, lost momentum in life. We need to have an extra measure of compassion for those who’ve been ill and continue with complications, for those who are lonely or depressed or confused.
This is exactly the time for us to honor Christ in the way the apostle Paul described: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Whether this year has been extremely stressful for us, or not, we’ll always benefit by turning our eyes to the grace of God, and in that gratitude, whatever its measure, to be raised up in thanksgiving.
So let’s pray for each other. Let’s pray for the nation where we live, and the whole world. And let’s bring our requests to God, with thanksgiving.
A Prayer for Thanksgiving
(from Prayers for Our Lives by Mel Lawrenz)
You have invited us to give you thanks, and this is what we wish to do. We are living in a time of great anxiety, but you have offered us a way out of anxiety. We long to know your loving care.
We pray to you because there is no one so good, so high, so holy, and so merciful as you. Thank you that you have invited us to bring our petitions and our requests to you. Who else can we go to for wisdom, or for hope, or for guidance?
We pray for those who suffer wherever they may be found. We pray for those in authority, that they would seek and find the wisdom that comes from above. We pray for peace in the world.
We pray that you would help us live in obedience, with integrity, based on the dignity you have given. And we pray for peace in our own hearts, a peace that proceeds from your forgiveness, the wholeness that comes from your restorative touch.
We thank you for creating a world you called “good.” We thank you that despite the evil that has entered the world and still wages war in our own souls, your own goodness is undiminished. We thank you that we have seen
honor that is bolder than shame;
mercy that is wider than cruelty;
truth that is straighter than deception;
faith that is stronger than treachery;
hope that is deeper than desperation.
We thank you for the ordinary things: the bread we receive today, the breath by which we live today. And we thank you for the extraordinary things: the strength we didn’t know was possible, and the discovery of truths we didn’t know we didn’t know. We thank you for the immeasurable grace shown to us in the coming of Jesus Christ, the hope of the world.
In his name, Amen.
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.
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