Circumstantial Thanksgiving

complain3Circumstantial Thanksgiving. When circumstances are just right, I’m thankful.  Otherwise, stand back while I moan, groan and complain.

While I cringe to think that I am only circumstantially thankful, I hear myself all the time conditioning my responses to, “How are you doing?”

Good thing I wasn’t an Israelite during their desert wandering years.  I would surely have stirred up the kind of ‘complainy’ unrest in the camp that drew God’s fire.  Literally.

“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.”  (Numbers 11:1, niv)

Our pastor asked if I’d offer a testimony at our Thanksgiving Eve service.  It’s a low-key gathering – a few songs, a prayer, the pastor offering a brief message.  Some years, a microphone is passed around for people to share what they are thankful for.

As much as I enjoy hearing reports of goodness, most captivating are testimonies about when life isn’t so kind. How is God showing up in the darkest moments?

God's view about complainingSome folks have been on our church prayer list for so long I wonder how they keep on keepin’ on.  Yet aren’t they who we seek counsel from first when we’re facing trials?

Testimonies like these bolster my resolve to flush away all my mistrust of God until complete trust in Him becomes my default mode.

In his book, “God Took Me by the Hand,” Jerry Bridges recalls when “ I became disgruntled with God for not providing a job for me…. I knew the solution to my attitude was to be found in the Bible, but where?  For some reason I decided to read Job…chapter 34 and verses 18-19 nailed me:”

“Is it fitting to say to a king, ‘You are worthless,’ And to nobles, ‘You are wicked’? Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands.” (nkjv)

“I was thunderstruck,” wrote Bridges.  “It was as if God were saying to me, ‘Who do you think you are to accuse Me, the infinitely Holy God, of being unfair to you?’ I was deeply convicted, fell on my knees, and repented to God.” (pg 64)

Bridges writes often about God’s providence and sovereignty, summarizing his philosophy in his book “Trusting God – Even When Life Hurts” with three bullets:

  • God is completely sovereign
  • God is infinite in wisdom
  • God is perfect in love.  (pg 18)

I recall a few instances of making a judgment about something only to later find I was completely wrong because I didn’t have all the facts necessary to make the correct call.  God doesn’t have a lack of information problem.

“If we knew all that God knows, we would act exactly as he does,” claimed Bill Giovannetti in his book “Secrets to a Happy Life – Finding Satisfaction in Any Situation.”

While God’s sovereignty and wisdom are reasons enough to trust in God, God’s love for me is my primarily motivator. That you and I matter to Him so much is why St. Paul so enthusiastically advises,

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, esv)

By ALL, Paul emphatically includes EVERY circumstance. Good place to start for my Thanksgiving Eve testimony.



Image sources:

Complaining to God:

Complaint department:

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