Charlottesville. Las Vegas. Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Maria. Sutherland Springs. These are the national crises we have faced as a nation just in the last six months. Not to mention the personal crises that may be enveloping you, your ministry, and your family that no one sees. It feels like we are limping to the end of 2017. Yet, somehow in the midst of all these things, we will stop and give thanks on Thursday.
When we look at our circumstances, we can be tempted to become angry or frustrated, but if we look closely, there is still a grace in our sufferings. This is a grace sufficient for our sufferings and a power made perfect in our weakness, but only if our eyes are turned to it. Difficult circumstances remind us of our desperate need for Jesus. When we “don’t know what to do,” we are reminded to turn our eyes to the hills from where our help comes.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat is facing a vast army, far larger than the army of Israel. He goes before the Lord with these words, “our eyes are on you.” He was facing impossible circumstances, and yet, he led the Israelites to sing “give thanks to the Lord, for his faithfulness endures forever.” In response to their praise, the Lord confuses the enemy and the Israelites are victorious without picking up a weapon. Their praise was the weapon. King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites praised God despite the multitude and before their deliverance.
We give thanks in the midst of our circumstances, not because the things we are facing are easy, but because we know the One who has overcome. Nothing we are facing or have faced this year is bigger or more powerful than God.
God answers Jehoshaphat in verse 15 with “do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” In the Lord’s answer, we have our reason for thanksgiving in the midst of difficult circumstances. If nothing else this Thanksgiving, we can praise God that we do not face our difficulties alone. We have a God who hears our cries, who sees our pains, who cares about our sufferings. We do not have to pretend with Him. We can say thanks even if it is through tears with trembling knees and shaky faith, because God hears through tears and trembling knees and has the strength to help our unbelief.
Despite the tragedies and challenges we are facing, we can give thanks because even while we don’t see, we know God is with us and He is able to create beauty from ashes, to give strength in our weakness, to give peace even as we mourn, to give us a praise even as we face a multitude. When we do not know what to do, let us give thanks anyway because we know the power of the One who does.