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Thanksgiving in Everything

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.      1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

A few weekends ago I visited Unicoi State Park in North Georgia. My family had a great time hiking around enjoying nature and each other. On Sunday morning we hiked up to see Anna Ruby falls. About halfway up to the falls we saw something amazing. Just off to the right of the trail was a massive boulder protruding from the bank. No big deal really. The big deal was that a full-grown tree seemed to be growing directly out of the boulder! This was a full-grown tree anchored in stone. The miraculous grace of nature was in full bloom.

This scene turned my thoughts to God and gratitude. A question arose in my mind: do I believe God can cause me to grow despite my circumstances? If so, why do I get so concerned about the stone at my feet? God seemed to be saying, “Despite rocks of any size, I can draw you outward, upward, taller, stronger, and cause you to bloom.” Could I truly be thankful for the rocks in my life? In short, yes.

Sure, warm fertile soil is nice and cozy, and makes for easy growth. But God says give thanks for the stones too. The Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Rejoice is not a word we use very often. It’s meaning is simple—be glad. So, wherever you find yourself and whatever happens, be glad. Delight in God’s grace. Always. And pray incessantly. Keep up a rhythmic conversation with God throughout your day. This will keep your heart and mind attuned to God rather than worrying about any rocks in which you feel rooted.

We are free to give thanks because it’s God who loves us and causes goodness and growth even when rocks surround us. We may feel like we are being crushed rather than being nurtured. Right now many are facing tough financial issues. Even worse, others are facing illnesses that will soon lead to their last breath. Still others are in severe pain mourning those they’ve lost. In these situations I recognize that gladness and thanksgiving may feel impossible. Only through God’s grace can we look around our stony landscapes and give thanks.

We may never understand our story, or why we face the difficulties we face. However, we can know that God is with us, in us, suffering along with us. This doesn’t necessarily take away the pain but it saturates our suffering with God’s empowering presence and love. We can thank God for that and trust that we will experience him during our most difficult hours.

The tree rooted in the rock at Anna Ruby Falls is such a site to see that there is a placard in the ground adjacent to the trail in order to draw attention to it. It’s a peculiar tree without question. This tree has grown against all odds. It’s a miraculous feat of nature. The same is true for us. As we grow in rocky places we become notable feats of God’s nature, miracles of divine grace in action. People will stop and stare at our lives with wonder and amazement.

I don’t know what size rocks you are facing this Thanksgiving season. Be they pebbles or three-ton boulders, be glad, pray, and give thanks. God is with you. Christ is your life.

A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart. – Charles Finney

Happy Thanksgiving.

About the Author

Artie has been communicating God's grace in various contexts over the last fifteen years. His passion is similar to Bill and Anabel's in that he desires to communicate God's grace in a way that makes it easily applicable in everyday life.