Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
It’s Thanksgiving - time to go around the dinner table and say what you are thankful for. When it’s your turn, you will likely be thankful for your family and the good meal. Then, you’ll think of other blessings that have come your way. The above Scripture passage tells us to give thanks to God in everything. So, will you be equally thankful for the difficulties and hardships? Will you thank God for the nasty neighbor and the guy with road rage that crossed your path the other day? If not, you are neglecting some of your blessings.
Why would God allow hardships, suffering and so on? The answer is: “To bring a greater good from it.” This is not a lesson we really want to hear. It is from God’s grace and mercy that we live, that we are blessed. Most of us, as Christians, will agree that we will all have crosses to carry in life, but when that time actually comes and our own crosses weigh us down, in our human nature we ask, “Lord, why are you doing this to me?” We may even feel betrayed. We hope, and even expect, that God will go easy on us. As followers of His Son, we feel as though God should cut us some slack and not place too heavy a burden on us. When we find ourselves in situations where we have nowhere to turn but to Him, we reach out and God is always there, waiting to help – that is our hope, our faith. When our prayers are answered, do we remember to be grateful?
Imagine it from God’s vantage point, all the times we complain to Him, or even just to ourselves. While we are complaining about some trivial thing, God sees the suffering of the poor, the lonely, the forsaken. Instead of complaining, we should be thanking God and offering up our inconveniences for those who are less fortunate and for the conversion of sinners. To suffer is not just an opportunity to strengthen our own souls, but something that can be united to the sufferings of Christ and given in love, like a prayer, for our salvation and for the salvation of others.
St. Joseph, help us to celebratethis day with grateful hearts.