If you have read my columns in the past, you know that we have a school-wide theme that helps to guide us for the school year. In the 2020-2021 school year, we chose “Rejoice in Hope,” because we foolishly thought things would go back to normal. In order to not be fooled the next year, we chose “Be the Light,” reminding us that even when things seem difficult and dark, we still are called to bring the light of Christ to others. Finally, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, this year we chose, “Give thanks in all things,” from 1Thessolonians 5:17.
It is easy to give thanks when life is going well. It is easy to be thankful for good friends, a good job, a loving family, a winning season, and good grades. It is not so easy to be thankful when our friend betrays us, our job is stressful, our family is fighting, our team is just out of playoffs, and we failed a chemistry test. It’s difficult when we are told to keep six feet apart, or activities we love are canceled, or we can not see our loved ones for extend periods of time.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he specifically writes to “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you.” In ALL things. Well that stinks. I do not want to give thanks when I lose a loved one. I do not want to give thanks when we have natural disasters or sickness or unemployment. St. Paul, however, makes it clear. This is God’s will for us. We obviously do not want to be thankful for evil, but we can be thankful despite evil.
Why should we be thankful for ALL things? Because all good things come from God. So maybe the only good thing that has happened today is that we woke up, or that our coffee was able to be drunk while it was still hot (or the ice had not melted yet). Being grateful in all situations helps us to remember the importance of the little things in life. Being a truly grateful person can help us to be resilient. It reminds us that while this situation may be awful, there is still goodness all around us.
Pastor and author, Daniel Brown, in this book “Dirty Christians: How to serve God in a Messy World,” wrote, “Thankfully, we have a God who does not quit being God when the situation is bad.” He is loving us when we do not know how to love ourselves. He is carrying us when we can not find the strength to walk. He is cheering us on when we can not pump ourselves up. This is something for which we should be grateful.
God has been so good to us but sometimes, in the middle of the storm, it is hard to be able see His goodness. But that is exactly when we need to be grateful the most. I once saw a post on social media that said, “If you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for last night, what would you have?” It is His will for us to give thanks, let us pray that we have the strength to fulfill His will.
Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.