In All Circumstances

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

-1 Thessalonians 5:18


I was recently discussing Thanksgiving traditions with a friend. Specifically, we were discussing the ways in which our personal Thanksgiving traditions differ from the traditions of our spouse’s families. Everything from what to eat and who prepares it to how to spend the hours of the afternoon brought different answers. Growing up, my family often went to the movie theater on Thanksgiving afternoon. My husband’s family watched Miracle on 34th Street. My friend says she likes to go for a run, while her husband’s family wants to watch the Detroit Lions play their traditional Thanksgiving game.

And speaking of different traditions, food! Is the meal prepared at home or catered in? Is the turkey roasted or smoked or fried? Is the stuffing homemade or out of a box? Is it mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes or both or neither? How should those green beans be prepared? And which kind of pie will be served? 

There are a lot of decisions to be made. No wonder we all have traditions, since that helps us take a break from making decisions by simply saying, “Well, we always do it this way.”

Sometimes, circumstances force a change in tradition. A couple gets married and has to compromise traditions to make it work in their new life together. The family matriarch announces she just can’t host again, and someone else has to learn to make the turkey. A job change forces a move out of state that makes gathering in person impossible. Supply chains mean you can’t find chestnuts anywhere and you have to change your stuffing recipe. (Maybe that one is just me.)

Gratitude and generosity do not depend on circumstances, though. Our ability to give thanks to God and give from what we have to one another is based on God’s character, not our circumstances. Maybe you’ll have exactly the Thanksgiving you dream of this year, and if that’s the case, I hope you give thanks to God. More likely, something will go wrong with your day. I hope you give thanks to God anyway. It’s God’s will for us that we give thanks in all circumstances. Let this Thanksgiving be a day full of gratitude and generosity, and let all our lives be filled each day with the very same thankfulness as we experience on Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving!